Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

NYC Memorial for Jorge Steven López Mercado – Sunday, November 22 at the Christopher Street Piers (Tentative), 7 – 9 p.m. Further Information: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179256219695

Jorge Steven López Mercado, 19

November 18, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, New York, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NYC Memorial for Jorge Steven López Mercado – Sunday, November 22 at the Christopher Street Piers (Tentative), 7 – 9 p.m. Further Information: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179256219695

Suspect Arrested in Puerto Rican Gay Teen Hate Murder Case

Jorge Steven López Mercado

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Associated Press is reporting that the arrested suspect in Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado’s grisly murder is claiming the infamous “gay panic” defense to besmirch the character of the victim, and appeal to anti-gay machismo.  Regional Police Director Hector Agosto said, “This was a ruthless crime.  Whoever did this just wanted to make the person disappear.”  Gay rights advocates in the Caribbean United States Territory have carried out a number of memorial events for young Lopez Mercado, as well as protests in the capital, San Juan demanding that police investigate the murder as a bias-related hate crime.  “They are hurt and they are indignant,” gay activist Pedro Julio Serrano said to reporters. “They are calling for justice.”  Local island media are reporting that Juan Antonio Martínez Matos, 26, a father of four, was arrested by authorities for the murder.  Matos is alleging that he was in search of a woman for sex, and when he found out that Lopez Mercado was a gay youth instead of a female, he panicked.  Whether he is speaking under the direction of an attorney is not known at this time, but in any event, the suspect has appardently made the calculation that enough members of the public will buy his account that he will be more likely to receive a lighter sentence, if convicted.  On the mainland, the gay or trans-panic defense has been tried on many occasions in an attempt to cast enough aspersions on the character of the LGBT victim that public opinion will soften toward the defendant.  In recent court cases, such as the trial of Allen Ray Andrade, the murderer of trans Latina Angie Zapata in Greeley, Colorado, the panic defense has fallen flat.  Andrade, who made a similar claim, left both judge and jury unconvinced, and received life in prison without hope of parole.  According to Box Turtle Bulletin, Matos also claimed that Lopez Mercado demanded money from him. Police investigators have allegedly discovered a wig, a burned mattress, burned PVC pipe, and a knife at the suspect’s apartment.  Accounts also say that police found blood stains on the wall of the courtyard of the apartment.  Investigator José J. Bermúdez said to the press that he has no doubt that López’s murder can be prosecuted as a hate crime.  Since the public can easily be prejudiced by media accounts that are both uncritical of a suspect’s allegations about his victim, and unverified as to what actually may (or may not) have been found at a crime scene, the Unfinished Lives Project will pass these details along as currently unsubstantiated reports until properly and fully vetted.  Officials in Puerto Rico are now saying that the mutilated, beheaded and partially burned body of Lopez Mercado was discovered on Friday, November 13 in a wooded area near Cayey, only a few miles from his home in Caguas.  Both the LGBT community in Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican population of New York City have expressed grave concern about the most savage murder of a gay person in Puerto Rico’s history.

November 18, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Colorado, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Media Issues, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy, stabbings, trans-panic defense, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gay Latino Teen Beheaded, Dismembered, and Burned

Caguas, Puerto Rico – Reports just making the wires confirm that Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, a gay teenager from Puerto Rico, was found brutally murdered in an anti-gay hate crime on November 14.  According to a CNNi item, the dismembered body of the 18-year-old was found on the side of a road in Cayey, partially burned and decapitated.  Mercado’s arms and legs were severed from his torso.  Christopher Pagan, who made the initial report to CNNi, related that Mercado was “was a very well known person in the gay community of Puerto Rico, and very loved.”  Associated Content reports that the police investigator in charge of the case made a televised statement to the press to the effect that “people [like young Mercado]  who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen.”  The response in the Puerto Rican LGBT community has been swift and intense.  Pressure is being brought to bear upon authorities to remove the investigator on the grounds that his prejudice hampers the pursuit of justice in the case of an anti-LGBT hate crime murder such as this.  The blog Towelroad quotes gay Puerto Rican activist Pedro Julio Serrano, “It is inconceivable that the investigating officer suggests that the victim deserved his fate, like a woman deserves rape for wearing a short skirt. We demand condemnation of this investigator and demand that Superintendente Figueroa Sancha replace him with someone capable of investigating this case without prejudice.”   Today, November 17, a 28-year-old suspect has been arrested in conjunction with the Mercado investigation, according to Primiera Hora.  Intensive interviews with Mercado’s friends pointed to the suspect, alleging that he had offered Mercado money in exchange for sex.  In further developments today, the police superintendent has dismissed allegations of homophobia against the police investigator who expressed his negative opinion about members of the gay community.  Serrano has issued this statement in response to the arrest and the innuendo swirling around this case: “Even when everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it is hopeful that they have arrested a suspect. We’re grateful for the Police work that has acted promptly and we trust that the investigation digs into the hate crime angle and if it is proven that it was indeed bias-related, that the criminal is processed to the full extent of the law….We urge the media and the authorities not to judge the victim, but the criminal who committed this horrendous crime. Even if there are particular circumstances in which this crime was committed, we have to keep the attention where it deserves to be: a young gay man was brutally murdered by someone who did not have any compassion or respect for the dignity of a human life.”  Associated Content evaluates the situation for LGBT persons and the memory of young Mercado: “Puerto Rico has a conservative religious climate, being strongly influenced by Roman Catholicism and socially conservative Protestantism. Puerto Rico is also a United States territory. As a result the brutal murder of George Steven Lopez Mercado is a hate crime under the hate crime legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama of the United States. To date no murder has yet been classified as a hate crime in Puerto Rico. Homosexuality in Puerto Rico is not illegal and George Steven Lopez Mercado deserves as much protection under the law as any other Puerto Rican citizen.”  The FBI is monitoring the situation, and has expressed willingness to assist in the investigation.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Puerto Rico, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Torture and Mutilation, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Latino Teen Beheaded, Dismembered, and Burned

   

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