Jurors find man guilty of killing adopted mother

Jurors convict Gerard Lopes of second-degree murder in Natalie Belmonte's death

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Jurors reached a verdict Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a man accused of killing his adopted mother.

Jurors convicted Gerard Lopes of second-degree murder in Natalie Belmonte's death. He was charged with first-degree murder, but jurors opted for a lesser charge.

"We're happy with the verdict. We're going to go up on appeal. The next step is a motion for a new trial. We feel there's plenty of error in the case," said Lopes' attorney, Jose Reyes.

Prosecutors said Lopes, 23, raped Belmonte, then killed her to cover it up. Lopes' attorneys argued the two had consensual sex.

Belmonte was last seen on July 16, 2011. Three days later, police found her body in a wooded area a few miles from her home.

"His story from the beginning was that he did not remember the night, that he had been drinking too much, so that's why we postulated that someone else could have killed her in the middle of the night and that's the theory we were going for for not guilty," said Reyes.

Belmonte, his cousin, adopted him from Guyana when he was 10 years old after his father died.

Second-degree murder is punishable by life in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for October 10.

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