Nationwide Vigils Planned for Slain Gay Puerto Rican Teen as Officials Mull Application of Federal Hate Crimes Law

The AP catches up with the story of slain Puerto Rican gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado. Over the weekend the decapitated, dismembered, and partially charred body of gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez
Mercado was found by the side of a road in Puerto Rico. The police
investigator suggested that he deserved what he got because of the
"type of lifestyle" he was leading. Juan Martinez Matos has been charged with first-degree murder:

Matos "Martinez met Lopez while looking for women Thursday night in an area known for prostitution, according to prosecutor Jose Bermudez Santos. Bermudez said the suspect confessed to stabbing Lopez, who was dressed as a woman, after discovering he was a man. 'He has a deep-seated rage,' Bermudez said in remarks reported by the newspaper El Nuevo Dia. 'All the information we have is very clear that this is indeed a hate crime,' said Pedro Julio Serrano, a Puerto Rico native who is a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

A 2002 hate crime law in this U.S. territory has not been applied to any cases involving sexual orientation or gender identity despite calls to use it more aggressively, Serrano said. A suspect convicted of a hate crime offense as part of another crime automatically faces the maximum penalty for the underlying crime. For murder, that would be life in prison.

Serrano said he has identified at least 10 slayings on the island over the last seven years that should have been investigated as hate crimes, including some in which the victims were sex workers.

Two U.S. Congress members from New York, who are of Puerto Rican origin, have suggested prosecuting the case under new federal hate crimes legislation that extended coverage to sexual orientation. President Barack Obama signed it last month.

The FBI is monitoring the investigation, and Lymarie Llovet Ayala, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Juan, said Wednesday that federal prosecutors are considering whether to take on the case."

Matos is being held on $4 million dollar bail: "López’s father Jorge attended Matos’ arraignment.' I have already forgiven you, but the one you must ask for forgiveness is God,' Jorge López said as translated from Primera Hora.

Jorge López also thanked officials who arrested Matos.' Thank God justice has been done,' he told investigator Ángel Rodríguez after yesterday’s hearing (as translated from Primera Hora.)"

CNNJorgemercado "In addition to murder, Martinez Matos was charged with three weapons
violations and one count of hiding evidence, prosecutor Yaritza
Carrasquillo said. Prosecutors are weighing whether to recommend
that Martinez Matos be charged under federal hate crimes law,
Carrasquillo said. That decision was not expected to come Wednesday."

***

Vigils are being planned across the nation for this Sunday, November 22.

In New York City a vigil will be held at Pier 45 followed by optional mass at 5:00 pm.

In Boston – 6PM, Trinity Church, Copley Plaza [Facebook link]

In Chicago – 4PM, Division and California, procession to Humboldt Park Boat House.]

In Dallas at 6:15 pm on Sunday.

In L.A. – 8PM, Santa Monica and San Vicente [Facebook link]

In Oakland – 3:30PM, MacArthur and Lakeshore/Grand Ave [Facebook link]

In San Francisco – 7PM, Castro and Market [Facebook link]

Vigils are also planned for Atlanta, Durham, New Orleans, and Philadelphia but information on location and times is not yet available.

More info on the vigils HERE.

Previously…
Puerto Rican Teen's Killer Says Murder was 'Gay Panic', Self Defense [tr]
Suspect Arrested in Horrific Murder of Puerto Rican Gay Teen [tr]
Gay Puerto Rican Teen Decapitated, Dismembered, and Burned [tr]

Comments

  1. says

    The eyebrows have been a Puerto Rican thing for years, especially with those who listen to Regaton (Puerto Rican rap). There is no correlation between tweezed eyebrows and sexual orientation.

  2. TANK says

    So where are all of his adoring gay fans? The ones who find this loser “attractive” (once again, no accounting for taste or self loathing…and when gay men lack taste, it’s as vivid as when they have it), and want to argue that it had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the victim and that gay panic’s a reasonable defense? Where are the ones who want to blame the victim by suggesting that he was prostituting himself and on drugs, and implying that he deserved it?

    Or the ones saying it was drug induced psychosis–as if that somehow magically dsqualifies that as a hate crime?

    I don’t see a lot of that right now. I guess those freaks crawled back under their rocks.

  3. John in Boston says

    Tank and others:

    I GUARANTEE you this guy is a fucked up druggie, and yes drugs played a big role.

    I GUARANTEE you he also knew perfectly well Jorge was a he.

    I GUARANTEE you cops and the prosecutor have had serious pressure placed on them by the feds to classify and prosecute as a hate crime.

    Martinez is on the DL and will play up his alleged homophobia as a distraction and lame defense.

  4. John in Boston says

    BE CAREFUL(!) who you hook-up with!

    I’m not saying Jorge deserved to be murdered, decapitated, chopped up!

    There are plenty of mentally unstable, ill, and/or fucked up druggies roaming around. You like it ‘rough’ and ‘real’ be fucking prepared for the possible negative consequences.

    And I feel sorry for guys and girls who have to hustle doing crazy dangerous shit to survive.

  5. Arturo Beeche says

    Ok…so the man goes out looking for sex…asks a girl first, then a guy…then proceeds to finally settle on the victim…what don;t the police not get?

    This piece of island trash (regatoners tend the be among the lowest people socially throughout Latin America…extremely few educated Hispanics listen to this nonsense) base their fears and ignorance on lack of education and tend to judge the educated because we have opted not to be like them.

    I hope the island authorities prosecute this monster to the full extent of the law and for what it is..a HATE CRIME!

    I am disgusted by this senseless crime, more so by anyone who dares state that someone deserved to meet such a ghastly end!

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