Closing arguments start in murder trial

Gerard Lopes charged with premeditated murder in Natalie Belmonte's death


Closing arguments began Monday afternoon in the trial of a man accused of killing his adopted mother.

Defense attorneys for Gerard Lopes rested after calling one witness. Closing arguments then began at 2:30 p.m.

Lopes, now 23 years old, is charged with premeditated murder in Natalie Belmonte's death. Belmonte, his cousin, rescued him from Guyana after his father died.

Tests show Lopes' DNA was found inside his adopted mother's body. Prosecutors said he raped Belmonte, then killed her to cover it up.

On Monday, Broward Circuit Court Judge Matthew Destry heard arguments on whether to allow a conversation that a detective overheard into the trial. He said Lopes told his attorneys that he'd take the stand and testify that his relationship with his adopted mother was sexual and consensual.

"Is that proper for a lead detective to overhear attorney-client conversations in that cubicle?" asked Jose Reyes, Lopes' attorney.

"If there's a private room available -- always, no matter what -- take the private room," said assistant state attorney Adriana Alcalde-Padron.

Several defense attorneys testified that when they meet with clients, they expect some privacy.

"[If] there was someone that's sitting within earshot that can overhear your conversation -- be it a detective or another person that you don't know who they are -- would you cease private, privileged conversations with your clients?" asked Alcalde-Padron.

Answers varied to Alcalde-Padron's question.

Destry ruled the detective's testimony wouldn't be allowed in the trial.

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