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Puerto Rico Police Arrest Suspect In Gruesome Murder

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009
Jorge Steven López

Jorge Steven López

Last last week, the brutally butchered body of nineteen-year-old Jorge Steven López was found by the side of a road near Cayey, Puerto Rico, just a few miles from his home in Caguas. Police have now arrested a suspect in the case.

On Nov 13, López’s body was found partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered. According to reports, both arms and both legs were cut from his torso. The gruesome murder sent shock waves throughout Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican community in New York.

Initial reports held out little hope that a proper investigation would be conducted. One investigator, Ángel Rodríguez Colón, told a Univision reporter, “Este tipo de personas cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle saben que esto les puede pasar. (This type of person, when he does things like this and go out on the street knows that this can happen to him.)” Puerto Rican LGBT activist Pedro Julio Serrano denounced the investigator and called for disciplinary action.

Early today, police arrested a twenty-sixeight year old male in connection with the case and seized two vehicles as evidence. So far, his name has not been released. (See update below.) Primera Hora reportsthat the man came under suspicion after police question López’s friends in Caguas, who reported that the suspect offered López money in exchange for sex.

Regional police director Hector Agosto saidthat police are investigation whether López’s murder was motivated by anti-gay hatred. “This was a ruthless crime,” said Agosto. “Whoever did this just wanted to make the person disappear.” But he cautioned that the investigation has just begun and police were investigating several possible motives.

LGBT advocates have urged officials to investigate under the recently passed U.S. federal statues protecting LGBT people against hate crimes. Harry Rodriguez of the FBI said they are monitoring the case and will provide any assistance needed in accordance with the hate crimes statute.

Update: Local media are now identifying the suspect as 26-year-old Juan Antonio Martínez Matos, who is running the gay/trans panic defense. Martínez is reported to claim that he was in the area looking to pick up a woman. He first thought López was a women but discovered that he was a man. He also claimed that López demanded money. Police investigators found a wig, a burned mattress, burned PVC pipe, a knife and blood stains on the wall of the courtyard of the suspect’s apartment.  Investigator José J. Bermúdez is quoted as saying that he has no doubt that López’s murder can be prosecuted as a hate crime.

Comments

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John
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

Given the strangeness of the crime and the fact that the victim might have been acting as a sex worker when killed, this could also be a serial killer where other victims haven’t been recovered or are located in other parts of the US or Carribean.

I had previously responded to John Avarosis’s call to send letter to the Attorney General to keep an eye on this case. I am glad that Puerto Rican officials now seem to be actually doing an investigation.

Regan DuCasse
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

When someone feels like they are being victimized by a gay person, why don’t they let the police handle it?
Why don’t they EVER try to escape and then put in a call to the police?
If this was SUCH a serious threat?

Why don’t they give the police the option of talking to the alleged gay attacker, investigating the situation?
Especially if you’re accusing the gay person of violating you in any way?

This is also a very distinct difference regarding a hate crime, as opposed to other crimes with the same result.

The opportunity to flee doesn’t include initial approach, robbing your alleged gay attacker, stealing their vehicle, mutilating them and hiding the body or leaving it without alerting someone, THEN days later, getting caught by the police or being forced to turn yourself in.
How come all these alleged would be victims of gay attackers/rapists don’t do that? Have any of them that use that defense get asked that?
If I were a prosecutor, I would take my questions in that direction.
Wonder how well that defense would hold up then?
Victims behave a certain way, even before they’ve been violated.

That’s why this defense is in direct opposition to the way most victims of any kind of violation would behave. And a smart cop, who knows this about other victims of crimes too, wouldn’t allow a criminal to even try to MENTION a ‘gay panic defense’.
It sends the message that validates the need for hate crimes legislation:

1. That such crimes are only dangerous to member of that group and not the whole of society.

2. Regardless of how heinous the crime, it deserves less punishment, if any, because of that group the victim belonged to.

3. That the justice system isn’t concerned with justice, so much as political expediency.

4. That a dangerous, violent criminal can be assured he can invoke this defense and not be punished enough. Leaving them license to do it again and again.

NONE of these are acceptable in a civilized society. Otherwise the system and who enforces it should be called into question and hate crimes legislation would at least, require such questioning.

JJQR
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

For both gays and straights, prostitution has always been a dangerous business.

ragarth
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

@JJQR

Are you saying that a ‘sex worker panic defense’ is valid?

“I didn’t know when I approached them that they were a whore, so I slaughtered them brutally, stabbing them 17 times in the face.”

ravenbiker
November 18th, 2009 | LINK

More I read these kinds of stories, the more I’m reconsidering my stand on capital punishment.

jeol
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Ah… my dear home territory of Puerto Rico. There are more than enough politicians here that would stand against a hate crimes bill.Gladly enough(in this instance) we’re bound by the US Federal law even if we have no say in the president.

Puerto Rican background:
The gay identity, even though quite elusive, is not widely condemned as long as you don’t outwardly express it, as far as i can see. Like, saying you have ‘una pareja’ might just be shrugged with indifference, but if you actually show affection, odds are you’ll be psss’d at. The puerto rican university inititiated its first gay movement club about 6 months ago… and they’ve had meetings without any opposition(except for the random strip-off-the-wall or the ‘homosexuality is an abomination’ black marked on the flyers). But that is to be expected as we are still a catholic majority, and the preachers cant repeat enough about safeguarding their children from this creeping evil. Apparently though, to the younger generation, this really doesn’t have much traction(THANK GOD).
I’m glad we are far.. FAR from Uganda. Like the US, i guess, justifying killing your homosexual brother is abominable. Civil Unions are still unforeseeable at any point in the future.

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