Balloons released after guilty verdict reached in Vanessa Milligan’s death

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Friends and family gathered in Troy on Wednesday to honor the memory of a young woman killed in April 2014.

It’s been two years since Vanessa Milligan was killed just days before she was to have a baby. Her family has been waiting for the man suspected of killing her to be brought to justice. On Wednesday, Gabriel Vega was found guilty on three charges.

“You know, at least he got charged with manslaughter, too,” Milligan’s grandmother Patricia Sunkes said. “Yeah, we’re not happy with that, but it’s there.”

Others that didn’t know Milligan too well still took the time to show their support.

“I just feel sorry for the family,” Bridget Steen said. “Really bad and I knew her cousin for a very long time.”

Several people gathered around Milligan’s heart shaped memorial Wednesday night. They held balloons to not only celebrate the verdict but also her life.

“I’ve been celebrating ever since they said guilty, and it’s been a rocky road, you know,” her father, Nate Milligan, said.

Nate said he can finally put his emotions to rest knowing that justice has been served for his daughter. He was one of many at her memorial to reflect on his best memories with her.

“Her laugh, the way she used to cover her mouth when she laughed was just, you know,” he said. “The way I used to embarrass her and sing songs and to know that she truly enjoyed that – it’s something I’m going to miss.”

By 7 p.m., a circle of people gathered around the memorial. They shared words of love and encouragement. Soon after, the balloons were released into the sky.

There were tears of happiness and sadness as everyone remembered Milligan’s loyal personality. And even though her life was taken too soon, friends and family said that at least they have the memorial to look to.

Vega is expected to be sentenced on July 14. He is facing a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

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