In 2014, Gabriel Vega allegedly killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend and their nine-month unborn baby and then set fire to her apartment to cover up his crime. On Wednesday, a jury convicted the Troy, New York man for several crimes – but not murder.
CBS 6 in Albany reports the jury found Vega guilty of manslaughter, arson and abortion in the deaths of Vanessa Milligan and her unborn baby, Alina. Abortion itself is not illegal in New York, but it can be a crime if, as in Vega’s case, it is done without a license.
Milligan’s family was happy to hear the guilty verdict, but some hoped for a murder conviction as well, according to the report.
Her aunt Shannon Williamson told the news station: “We buried two lives, Vanessa and Alina. And for him to walk away with just a manslaughter charge and not one murder charge I think was wrong. Six people lost their homes that night. Two people lost their lives that night. There could have been more.”
Her father, Nathan Milligan, said Vega will be held accountable, no matter what the courts decide.
“He knows what he did, you know. He has to answer to God with that,” Milligan said.
Vega reportedly did not show any emotion while the jury read the verdict. His lawyers said they may appeal, while prosecutors said they plan to ask a judge for the stiffest sentence allowed by law, the report states.
In April 2014, Milligan, 19, was nine months pregnant with her unborn daughter, Alina, when the two were found dead in a fire; the fire had spread from their apartment to two buildings on 5th Avenue in Lansingburgh, LifeNews reported. At the time, officials told the media they believed the fire was set to cover up the killing. Vega was just 18 at the time of the incident.
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Troy’s Police Chief John Tedesco called Vega “a sadistic killer” during the investigation in 2014.
Pregnant women face high levels of domestic violence in the United States. One in six women is first abused during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Sometimes the abuse occurs after the woman refuses her partner’s demands to have an abortion, as it did with a Pennsylvania case in 2015.
Earlier this month, LifeNews reported another gruesome murder case involving a North Carolina woman who allegedly was murdered by her boyfriend after refusing to abort their child.
And in March, a Brooklyn, New York man was sentenced to 32 years in prison for a similar case. A jury found Torey Branch, 35, guilty of abortion, burglary and assault for beating his pregnant girlfriend and causing the death of their unborn child, LifeNews reported.