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Trial begins in Virginia Beach for man accused of killing Bellamy Gamboa

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Posted at 11:48 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 18:50:25-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The trial for the man accused of killing Virginia Beach mother Bellamy Gamboa began Tuesday morning in circuit court.

Lamont Johnson faces several charges, including second-degree murder, as well as charges for leaving his young twins alone while prosecutors say he was out disposing of Gamboa's body.

Gamboa, a mother of four, went missing in July 2018. Nearly four years later, her body has never been recovered.

Last year, a judge ruled a confession made by Johnson could be played during the trial. In the taped confession, Johnson told investigators he threw Gamboa down the stairs during an argument and that he choked her in front of their young twins.

In another recording, Johnson told investigators that he put Gamboa's body into a dumpster in Chesapeake.

During last year's hearing, Johnson's attorney argued he had been "coerced" into making the confession after being interrogated for 19 hours.

In the end, the judge ruled in favor of allowing prosecutors to play the confession during trial.

Gamboa's disappearance in 2018 set off community-wide searches for her, but her body has not been recovered.

Prosecutors said during the trial her body was incinerated into ash at a trash facility in Portsmouth.

The first part of Tuesday was all about jury selection, and now one has been seated, with 14 making up the jury: 12 people plus two alternates. Twelve men and two women make up the jury.

Then, both sides presented their opening statements. Prosecutors played the confession tapes and said Johnson put her in the dumpster "like the piece of trash he thought she was."

The defense didn't give too many insights into their case, saying Johnson is presumed innocent and telling jurors prosecutors have to prove the murder charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Gamboa's family has been in the courtroom during the trial.

"We are a bit nervous and anxious and relieved that the trial has officially started," Gamboa's sister, Charisse, said.

Later, prosecutors called people close to Gamboa to the stand as witnesses, including her father. They all said they haven't heard from her since 2018, which was an attempt to prove she is in fact dead.

Johnson's family is also expected to testify on the defense side. He's being represented by public defenders. His family had no comment when asked Tuesday.

The trial is expected to last the rest of the week and potentially into next week.

News 3 will continue to provide updates on the trial as they happen.