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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for November, 2009

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.