NEWARK, NJ (PIX11) — A jury found a man guilty of stalking, killing and trying to disintegrate the remains of his ex-girlfriend in New Jersey, officials said Tuesday.
Gualberto Lebron, 37, murdered Julia Vega, the 30-year-old mother of his children, in 2018, prosecutors said. He put her remains in garbage bags filled with chemicals. Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wells, who tried the case, described Lebron’s actions as “without exaggeration – monstrous.”
“But the entire community including her friends, neighbors, and family, along with tireless, dedicated members of law enforcement, came together to get justice for her,” Wells said. “The jury was attentive and diligent throughout a long and disturbing trial, and returned a verdict that will provide some measure of justice and closure for Julia Vega and her children.”
There was a history of domestic violence between Lebron and Vega. Lebron was charged with strangulation, aggravated assault, and sexual assault against Vega in connection with a May 5, 2018 incident, officials said. He attacked Vega in her Newark apartment while the children were there.
Vega escaped, but she was followed by Lebron, prosecutors said. Neighbors intervened and Lebron fled.
Lebron continued to stalk Vega, officials said. He threatened to kill her if she didn’t drop the charges against him.
Friends and police encouraged Vega to move into a domestic violence shelter, but she didn’t want to move, authorities said. She’d only just gotten the apartment with her kids.
Vega went home on May 9, 2018, during her lunch break from a job at a local day care, officials said. She needed to walk her dogs.
Lebron followed her, broke into the apartment, and killed Vega, prosecutors said. He cleaned the apartment and carried Vega’s body out in a rolled-up rug. Lebron loaded Vega’s body into her minivan and drove off. A missing person investigation was launched later that day.
Lebron kept Vega’s body hidden as he searched for a place to leave her remains, officials said. He also got his brother to help him. They eventually moved Vega’s remains into trash bags, filled the bags with chemicals, and sealed the bags with duct tape.
The bags were found behind an abandoned home in Irvington on June 1, 2018.
Lebron was found guilty on 21 of 24 counts, including aggravated murder, burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, witness tampering, desecrating human remains, conspiracy, and three counts of endangering the welfare of children. He faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the top conviction, officials said.
His brother, 38-year-old Gilberto Lebron, was convicted of desecrating human remains, hindering prosecution, and conspiracy. He faces up to 10 years in prison for his conviction for desecrating human remains.