Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

López Mercado Murder To Be Treated as Anti-LGBT Hate Crime Killing

San Juan, Puerto Rico – A federal prosecutor in San Juan has announced that her office is continually monitoring the investigation of the horrific torture-murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado, and promised that she will bring hate crimes charges in the event that Puerto Rican authorities do not.  The EDGE reports that United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez told the Puerto Rican press she was prepared to lodge anti-LGBT hate crimes charges against Juan A. Martínez Matos, the self-confessed killer of the 19-year-old out gay youth.  If she carries through, this will be the first prosecution under the provisions of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act since it was signed into law by President Barack Obama in October.  Martínez Matos, 26, allegedly decapitated, dismembered, and attempted to immolate López Mercado, dumping his remains on a lonely stretch of road outside Cayey on November 13.  As an excuse for his crime, the alleged killer has claimed that he was surprised to find out that the youth, who was dressed as a female, was actually a gay person.  Believing that Puerto Rican attitudes are still conservative enough to credit some form of the well-worn “gay panic” defense, Martínez Matos says that previous bad encounters with a gay man in his youth caused him to explode with rage.  A judge has ruled that Martínez Matos must undergo psychological evaluation to establish that he is mentally healthy enough to stand trial.  Local LGBT activists have decried the ruling, but are welcoming the announcement of the United States Attorney that hate crime charges may be brought in this case.  Pedro Julio Serrano said to the EDGE, “We are satisfied that the federal authorities are monitoring this case and that they’re respecting the work that the local authorities are doing.  We are all vigilant to this process and we won’t rest until justice is served. This was a horrible hate crime and Puerto Rico needs to send a powerful message to the world that we do not tolerate homophobia in any of its ugly forms.”

December 15, 2009 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay panic defense, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. […] the motivators Martin says moved him to come out publicly as a gay man was the gruesome murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado in 2009.  The gay teen was abducted, dismembered, beheaded, and his remains were left burning […]

    Pingback by Ricky Martin Criticizes Move to Drop Gay Protections from Puerto Rico Law « Unfinished Lives | December 8, 2011

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