Judge postpones trial for gay Puerto Rican teenager’s alleged killer

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Monday March 8, 2010

A Puerto Rican judge has postponed the start of the trial of the man who allegedly murdered Jorge Steven Lpez Mercado last November.

Judge Myriam Camila Justino announced earlier today Juan Jos Martnez Matos' trial would begin on April 14. EDGE reported last month a second judge had announced Martnez's trial would begin on March 30, but the defendant must notify Camila on April 5 whether he would like to forgo a jury trial.

Prosecutors contend Martnez stabbed Lpez to death on Nov. 12, 2009. Authorities further allege Martnez decapitated, dismembered and partially burned the teenager's body before he dumped it along a remote roadside near Cayey.

Details of Lpez's reported drug use and prostitution emerged during Martnez's preliminary hearing last month, but Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Lesbian & Gay Task Force and other activists continue to maintain Lpez's brutal murder was a hate crime.

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.