Killer of Gay Puerto Rican Teen Jorge Mercado Pleads Guilty, Gets 99 Years in Prison

Juan Matos, the man charged in the brutal murder of gay Puerto Rican teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, pleaded guilty today and received an immediate sentence. As you may remember, Mercado's body was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially burned by the side of the road near the Puerto Rican town of Cayey last November.

Edge reports

"Juan José Martínez Matos, who had been scheduled to go on trial for Jorge Steven López Mercado’s death on Monday, May 17, confessed to the crime during a hearing in Caguas on Wednesday, May 12.

Martínez told the court he understood the consequences of his actions, and Judge Miriam Camila Jusino immediately sentenced him to 99 years in prison.

Primera Hora reported López’s parents, Myriam Mercado and Jorge López, hugged prosecutor Yaritza Carrasquillo after the hearing. Mercado told the newspaper, however, Martínez’s confession was bittersweet for her and her family.

'We are able to find a bit of peace in this aspect, but it still not going to return Steven,' she said. 'But at least there is justice in Puerto Rico.'

Jorge López evoked his faith.

'I want to send a message to Juan (Casper) and tell him there is hope in Christ,' said López with tears in his eyes. 'The lord has forgiveness for him, Irregardless of what has happened. God has a plan for him if he opens his heart to Christ. God will forgive him also.'"


  1. Steve says

    Finally some good news from this horrible, horrible case. Now let’s hope he serves those 99 years. May God have mercy on his soul, and may the other prisoners NOT have mercy on his ass.

  2. jack says

    too bad those pricks in nyc get off with aggravated battery or mistrial for taking a baseball bat to a guatemalan holding hands with his brother.

    you can’t get justice in life in PR, but at least you can get it in death.

  3. TANK says

    Well, at least he wasn’t convicted of aggravated battery. Still, if the victim is going to be on trial (as many towleroad readers seem to advocate, among racism, antisemitism, and bigotry), his apparel and place where he met guys does come with added risk of violent attack for all people involved. Prostitution is a dangerous business, and does increase the likelihood of being victimized for all involved, even tangentially. So, perhaps that’s “relevant” to assessing the punishment here. Who knows, maybe Juan didn’t even mean to kill jorge, and it was manslaughter.

  4. Paul R says

    Cripes, could there ever be a single posting on this site related to crime and punishment where someone doesn’t call for the criminal to be raped violently and repeatedly? Do you not realize that’s exactly how homophobic morons would respond to a parallel case if, say, a girl were raped and murdered?

    Anyway, it’s nice to know that justice for violently murdered gays exists in some parts of the US, even if they are territories.

  5. sk says

    Yeah, Tank, maybe he didn’t mean to kill him. I mean, Matos may have thought the kid could live without his head actually attached to his body. Or maybe he thought Mercado needed to lose a little weight, and his limbs had to go? This isn’t “manslaughter”…you don’t “accidentally” decapitate and dismember a body. Setting one on fire though, is another matter entirely…

  6. TANK says

    I’m just sayin’, if the victim is on trial (which a significant number of towleroad readers believe), then it could be that he accidentally killed him, and disposed of the body by dismembering it. And his background is very important for the victim blamers here, too, for the “she shouldn’t be wearin’ whore dress!” crowd. No where are the racists? Bring on the racists!

    I think the verdict is a little lenient, to be honest…but many here think it’s far too much for a heterosexual convicted of murdering a gay.

  7. John in Boston says

    We have way to many gratuitous whiners and malcontents in America. I’m not saying this country is perfect, far from it, but no place is and no place ever will be. This is appropriate justice. In general you are guaranteed justice for victims in criminal sentencing in America compared to comparable nations. Believe me, in the UK for example, the dude Matos would have received a far more lenient sentence.

    Honestly though, he deserves the death penalty.