Jury convicts Braintree man for murdering neighbor with axe in money dispute

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

Lucas Walters, 32, was arrested July 29, 2009 after telling police that 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 axe when Phillips refused, and hid the body in a shed near the Middle Street home where they both lived, the statement said.

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

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After admitting to the murder, Walters led police to wooded area in Suffield, Conn., where he had stashed Phillips’s body after removing it from the shed. Walters told police that 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 was read. “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.