FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Pembroke Pines man convicted of killing his adoptive mother has been sentenced to life in prison.
Gerard Lopes, 23, had little reaction as a judge handed down his sentence Wednesday afternoon.
A jury convicted Lopes of second-degree murder in the death of his mother, Natalie Belmonte, whose beaten body was found dumped in a marsh near their Pembroke Pines home in July 2011. Prosecutors say Belmonte was raped, beaten and suffocated.
Judge Matthew Destry was unsparing in his condemnation of Lopes telling him, “You showed no remorse and treated your mother with utter contempt. The woman loved you and rescued you from a life of abject poverty. She nurtured you and raised you as her own. This was your mother and you sir, you dumped her half-naked and beaten body in a swamp and didn’t have the decency to cover her. What emerges is the portrait of a sociopath.”
After telling Lopes he would spend the rest of his life in prison, Belmonte’s sister who testified against him at the trial, wept.
Belmonte’s 22-year-old daughter hugged a supporter as did Belmonte’s mother.
“It has been a nightmare, an absolute nightmare,” said Alex Teixeira, the brother-in-law of Belmonte. Teixeira read a prepared statement on behalf of the family thanking law enforcement and the Broward State Attorney’s office for their hard work on the case.
“We’re happy the trial is at an end. The stress and anguish is unthinkable,” said Teixeira.
In July 2011 Natalie Belmonte disappeared after attending a graduation party with her adopted son. Hours after returning home, Lopes was seen was seen on surveillance putting a bag, believed to be her body in the trunk of her car.
His bloodsoaked clothes were found in a dumpster days later.
The family indicated they agreed with the judge’s decision to sentence Lopes to life in prison.
“The family wanted him to suffer, the way Natalie suffered. Justice was served,” said David Eiglarsh who was a co-worker and friend of Natalie Belmonte.
Lopes’ lawyer is appealing his second-degree murder conviction while prosecutors say the punishment fits the crime.
“If he could do this to his mother, who loved him, there’s nothing left for him,” said assistant state attorney Adriana Alcalde.