Crime | News | Pedro Julio Serrano | Puerto Rico

Suspect in Gay Puerto Rican Teen's Murder Sent for Mental Evaluation

Juan Martinez Matos, charged in the murder of 19-year-old Puerto Rican gay teen Jorge Lopez Steven Mercado in mid-November, has been sent a psychiatric ward to undergo an evaluation following a pre-trial court appearance.

Matos Yesterday I received an email from Christopher Pagan, who first alerted me to the murder via an iReport filed on CNN. Pagan was present at the court appearance.

Here's Christopher's full email:

Today December 9, 2009 was the set date pretrial of Juan Martinez Matos the killer of Jorge Steven Lopez. The pre trial was taking place at 10:30 am at the local court in Caguas Puerto Rico, near where he was murdered. As I went upstairs to the courtroom, I immediately heard that the psychological evaluation that was performed on Juan was in the total amount of thirty minutes. That he was noted to have anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and was unable to remember the events of that gruesome night, when he beat, burned, decapitated and dismembered Jorge.

He was deemed as incapacitated to speak and take part in the pre trial and was to be sent later to the Psychiatric Ward of Puerto Rico, where he would then be evaluated again on January 7, 2009, and he is to remain there until that date. Yaritza Carrasquillo the prosecutor on the Jorge case was demanding answers, as to why all of a sudden Jorge’s killer was unable to give a testimony as to what happened that night, and she was then told that he is still under mental trauma.

Later Yaritza told the press that he would be set for another evaluation in early January, and that the main goal for the moment is to prove a cause for first degree murder, and to take the process step by step. She also requested towards the end of the day when the press was gone, but I had stayed, that the Pretrial be immediately followed after the mental evaluation, to avoid “coaching” on Juan’s side once he is evaluated.

I was sitting in the court room later that day which was the only time Juan was seen and ironically when the press had left. Since he had to be present for his future dates. He seemed cold yet scared all at once, had no expression whatsoever on his face. When he realized that there were eight witnesses involved in the case. Including Jorge’s father, Luis (Jorge's Lover), officers and investigators he became a bit nervous and uneasy.

Jorge’s father also made a statement which I was able to capture and record, and translate. Indicating that the killer is using a excuse and ploy, and that he's using the insanity claim to buy time. Also that he is very sure that Juan Matos knows what he did, remembers what he did, and the way he did it. Jorge’s father also demanded that justice be served in this case.

Activist Pedro Julio Serrano told EDGE that he was furious about what's happening: "This is outrageous. The reality is we’re seeking justice and we will not rest until this process is done without prejudice."

Serrano has received assurances from investigators that the case is being investigated as a hate crime.

The next pre-trial date in court is January 13.

Two videos shot by Pagan at the pre-trial — one of Mercado's father and the other of prosecutor Yaritza Carrasquillo, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Of course he needs mental evaluation! There's killing people and then there's dismembering, decapitating and burning! But that doesn't mean he needs to be given a "Get out of jail" card.

    Posted by: J.P. | Dec 10, 2009 12:44:48 PM

  2. Mental evaluation? So they're going to play the temporary insanity plea or the insanity plea, and parlay that into big gay panic defense, capitalizing on the illiterate jury's ritards and bigotry. It's a tough one, but gay panic works. This guy should be shot.

    Posted by: TANK | Dec 10, 2009 12:50:47 PM

  3. To anyone who has lived through this kind of a nightmare this is no surprise. You have to be insane to take another persons life, or even to attempt to do so.

    My brother quit his job as an ADA here in NYC after watching our brother questioned by the nutcase who shot him five times, after killing six others. It was 16 years ago last week but we will never forget those who were not as lucky as my brother to survive.

    When people ask about hate crimes, I know first hand. My brother was among those who were shot because the shooter hated whites. Lucky for us we were raised better. Not one of our family or friends played the race card.

    I'm blessed my brother overcame our Catholic bias of my being gay, he and his wife have been so supportive this past year when I broke my ankle, taking me back and forth to doctors appointments and therapy.

    I send my prayers to the Mercado's family as well as the Matos family, people often forget that bad seed does not always come from bad family or upbringing.

    Perhaps it is wishful thinking, or hope for a better day, but throwing it out there anyway. Tell someone you love how much, thank God you have what you do, not what you don't need.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Dec 10, 2009 1:14:33 PM

  4. Thanks for the thoughts, PATRICK. Yes, you do have a wonderful family. Sixteen years ago, you and your family did not allow violent hate take over your lives, your beliefs, your views of other people. Yes, a fine family.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Dec 10, 2009 1:29:02 PM

  5. I hope they are not planning the gay panic defense.

    Posted by: jaragon | Dec 10, 2009 6:16:17 PM

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