Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Brutal Stabbing Death of Puerto Rican Transwoman Possible Hate Murder

Corozal, Puerto Rico – Ashley Santiago’s mother pressed police to investigate why she had not heard from her daughter since Sunday, April 18.  When law enforcement entered Santiago’s home on April 19 in Corozal, a municipality just 25 miles southwest of San Juan, they found her naked body in a large pool of blood collapsed on the kitchen floor.  She had been stabbed 14 times, according to the report of authorities to El Nuevo Día.  Police also reported that they could not find Santiago’s 2009 Toyota Corolla parked outside her home.  EDGE Boston picked up the story overnight, and has flashed it across the United States’ LGBT blogosphere.  Santiago, 31, was a popular hair stylist at a local salon. Echoes of the savage dismemberment-killing of gay teen Jorge Steven López Mercado in November 2009 still reverberate around the island.  His alleged murderer, Juan A. Martínez Matos, has yet to stand trial for the beheading, butchery, and attempted immolation of his victim.  After several postponements, Martínez Matos is docketed to stand trial for the murder of López Mercado in Caguas on May 3.  While law enforcement officials have not yet designated Santiago’s murder as a hate crime due to the perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and expression of the victim, LGBT activists across the region are calling on police to invoke Puerto Rico’s seldom-used hate crimes statute which covers anti-LGBT hate crimes.  Pedro Julio Serrano, noted San Juan activist who represents the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Puerto Rico, told EDGE, “The authorities have a legal obligation to investigate this hate angle. We urge the police and the prosecutor to appropriately investigate this murder; to determine whether it was motivated by prejudice and if there is enough evidence to classify it as a hate crime at this moment.”  As Transrespect Versus Transphobia, a TVT monitoring agency in Europe reports, a transperson’s murder is reported every third day throughout the world, on average. for the last year and a half.  Authorities acknowledge, however, the deep under-reporting of the actual number of transphobic murders.

April 20, 2010 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, home-invasion, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , ,

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