Suspect in gay Puerto Rican teenager’s murder found competent to stand trial

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Wednesday January 13, 2010

A man accused of brutally murdering a gay Puerto Rican teenager has been found competent to stand trial.

Territorial psychologist Rafael Cabrera reported his findings to Judge Miriam Camila Justino during a hearing in Caguas earlier this morning. Local authorities contend Juan Jos Martnez Matos murdered Jorge Steven Lpez Mercado last November before dumping his decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body along a remote roadside.

"The quest for justice has begun," Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force told EDGE in a text message sent from inside the court house.

Local authorities have pledged to prosecute Martnez under the territory's hate crimes laws, but activists and elected officials on the island and around the country remain outraged over Gov. Luis Fortuo's continued silence.

"There are a lot of people who are extremely angry about how the governor has responded to this situation," New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said as she spoke at a fundraiser for Lpez's family at the Nuyorican Poets Caf on Manhattan's Lower East Side on Tuesday night.

Quinn is among the lawmakers-City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez [D-Lower East Side] and Melissa Mark-Viverito [D-East Harlem,] among others--from the five boroughs and Chicago who will travel to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to meet with Lpez's family and LGBT activists.

"Never doubt that the support from New York and from the community in New York enhances the struggle in Puerto Rico; we saw this with Vieques and we will do it for justice for Jorge Steven Lpez Mercado," Mendez said.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.