FORT LAUDERDALE  (CBSMiami) – The trial is underway for a Pembroke Pines man accused of raping and killing his adoptive mother.

Gerard Lopes,23, showed little emotion as prosecutors laid out their murder case against him.

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On July 17, 2011 Natalie Belmonte vanished after attending a graduation party with Lopes.  

Prosecutors said when they returned home, Lopes and Belmonte had some type of confrontation and there was a struggle.

They said Lopes beat and strangled Belmonte and then loaded her body into her Lexus and dumped it in a wooded area.

Lopes defense team says there is little evidence to support the allegations.

In court Monday, Belmonte’s daughter Brianna testified that her mother adopted Lopes when she was a child but that Natalie Belmonte always treated him as a ‘son’.

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Once her mother went missing, she asked Lopes if he knew what had happened.

“He always said he couldn’t remember or didn’t know,” said Brianna Belmonte.

Lopes has said the two had a consensual sexual relationship.

Belmonte’s family denies that and said Natalie Belmonte was always his mother attending his school events and supporting him as a son.

Belmonte’s parents and other family members are attending the trial.

Her mother left the courtroom when there was disturbing testimony about her death.

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If convicted Lopes faces life in prison.