Vega found guilty of manslaughter, arson and abortion
TROY--A Troy man who killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend and then torched her apartment back in 2014 escaped a murder conviction on Wednesday.
A jury of six men and six women found Gabriel Vega guilty of manslaughter, arson and abortion in the death of Vanessa Milligan but not guilty of murder.
Vega hardly even blinked as the jury foreperson read off their unanimous verdicts one by one.
Milligan's father, who was in court every day of the two-week trial but just missed the reading of the verdict, was satisfied.
"Baby girl, we got him. That's the best thing I can tell you. I'm going to celebrate today," Nathan Milligan said.
But the conviction was not as stiff as some members of Milligan's family hoped.
Milligan's aunt Shannon Williamson was upset that the jury acquitted Vega of murder.
"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," Williamson said. "Six people lost their homes that night. Two people lost their lives that night. There could have been more."
Vega's family is sharing a different kind of grief.
"Hurt. Just as well as they are. There are no winners here. They lost Vanessa, we lost Gabriel," Vega family friend Elba Pacheco said.
Prosecutors are preparing to ask for the stiffest sentence allowed under the law.
"The manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of 25 years, the arson he can get 25 years," District Attorney Joel Abelove said.
Abelove said the abortion conviction can carry a penalty of up to seven years. He says prosecutors will look to see if Vega can serve the sentences for each of those charges consecutively.
Meanwhile, Vega's defense attorney Frederick Rench says his client plans to appeal.
"We have discussed options with respect to an appeal and he's obviously going to pursue that," Rench said.
Even if that is not successful, there is still a chance Vega will be released from prison in his lifetime. Milligan's father says the 20-year-old's most serious punishment will come after that.
"He know what he did, you know, he has to answer to God with that," Milligan said.
Vega will be sentenced July 14th.