This afternoon I received word from activist Pedro Julio Serrano as well as Chris Pagan (who filed an early iReport on the crime) that the Feds are keeping a close eye on the investigation into the hate crime murder of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado
In November Mercado's
decapitated, dismembered, and partially charred body 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 for Mercado's death.
Serrano provided translation of a Cybernews story:
"The U.S. Attorney for the district Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez (above), just announced to the press that they are monitoring the local case against Juan Martínez Matos, the confessed killer of gay teen Jorge Steven López to make sure that it is processed as a hate crime. According to Rodríguez, if the local courts do not process this as a hate crime, then her office will file federal hate crime charges. 'We are vigilant of the investigation conducted by the Puerto Rican Justice Department, but the Matthew Shepard, law, which is the federal hate crimes law, puts us in a subsidiary role because if there is a local investigation, we have to wait and be vigilant that the proper procedures are followed,' said Rodríguez, who added that if at the local level the killer is not accused of hate crime, or is found guilty or not guilty, federal authorities could still intervene. 'We’re very alert to that,' said Rodríguez, who expressed that she thinks that the case is being worked adequately."
Last week, Matos was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after appearing unfit for a pre-trial hearing. However, there was suspicion that Matos may have been feigning the mental trauma. The next pre-trial date in court is January 13.