Mercado's murderer 'not fit' to stand trial: Is Matos faking it?
Jorge Steven Lopez-Mercado's murderer, Juan Martinez-Matos, who was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation earlier this month for the savage slaying of Lopez-Mercado who was openly gay, has been deemed 'not fit to stand trial' by a court-appointed psychiatrist who also considers that Martinez-Matos 'may be faking or exaggerating his symptoms'.
Martínez Matos is charged with first-degree murder in the brutal killing of 19-year-old Jorge Steven López Mercado in Puerto Rico. He has also been charged with other counts, including weapons violations.
Psychiatrist Rafael Cabrera said the suspect should be kept in a forensic psychiatric hospital, according to the website Caribbean Business. Cabrera admitted, though, that the suspect may be faking or exaggerating his symptoms.
Judge Camila Jusino ordered Martínez Matos to undergo another evaluation on January 7 and set a new hearing on his fitness to face criminal proceedings for January 13.
According to police reports, López Mercado was dressed as a woman when Martínez Matos picked him up on a street known for prostitution in the town of Cayey. He claimed he didn't know López Mercado was a man and that he killed him in self-defense. López Mercado's body was found decapitated and partially burned alongside a road in central Puerto Rico November 13.
Will time prove that Martinez-Matos is 'faking or exaggerating his symptoms'? Does 'not fit to stand trial' preclude Martinez-Matos from being charged with, and facing the penalties of, a hate crime?
LGBT Activists on the island are outraged that prosecutors have not yet decided whether or not to prosecute Martinez-Matos under the newly enacted Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law passed by Congress & signed by President Obama last month.
"All the information we have is very clear that this is indeed a hate crime," said Pedro Julio Serrano, a Puerto Rico native who is a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "A 2002 hate crime law in this Puerto Rico has not been applied to any cases involving sexual orientation or gender identity despite calls to use it more aggressively," he remarked.
A suspect convicted of a hate crime offence as defined by the 2002 law, as part of another crime, automatically faces the maximum penalty for the underlying crime. For murder, that would be life in prison.
Read the initial statements of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Pedro Julio Serrano, Task Force Manager and founder of Puerto Rico Para Todas.
Resources for gay and questioning youth at I think I might be Gay.
Previously on NowPublic by this Author:
Suspect arrested in murder of gay Puerto Rican teen
Gay teen decapitated, dismembered and burned in Puerto Rico
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