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Jury convicts Braintree man of murdering neighbor with ax in money dispute

A Norfolk Superior Court jury convicted a Braintree man Wednesday who admitted murdering his neighbor with an ax during a dispute over money and hiding the man’s body in Connecticut, prosecutors said.

Lucas Walters, 32, was arrested on July 29, 2009, after telling police he had murdered 31-year-old Jeffrey Phillips, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said in a statement. Walters told police that on July 24, 2009, he asked Phillips to lend him money, chopped him to death with an ax when he refused, and hid the body in a shed near the Middle Street home where they lived, the statement said.

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Phillips’ family reported him missing several days later, and police found that valuable items had been stolen from his apartment, the statement said.

After admitting to the murder, Walters led police to a wooded area in Suffield, Conn., where he had stashed Phillips’s body after removing it from the shed. Walters told police he had used Phillips’s credit card to buy cigarettes and gasoline while on his way to stash the body, the statement said.

“This was a terrible crime, and a horrible burden for the family of Jeffrey Phillips to bear,” Morrissey said after the verdict. “We thank the jury for their work, their diligence, and their just conclusion. It is our hope that today’s verdict provides Jeffrey’s family whatever modicum of solace the criminal justice system can provide.”

The jury also convicted Walters on charges of breaking and entering and larceny.

Walters will be sentenced Thursday in Norfolk Superior Court.

Todd Feathers can be reached at todd.feathers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ToddFeathers.
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