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 López Mercado last November.

Judge Myriam Camila Justino announced earlier today Juan José Martínez Matos' trial would begin on April 14. EDGE reported last month a second judge had announced Martínez'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 Martínez stabbed López to death on Nov. 12, 2009. Authorities further allege Martínez decapitated, dismembered and partially burned the teenager's body before he dumped it along a remote roadside near Cayey.

Details of López's reported drug use and prostitution emerged during Martínez's preliminary hearing last month, but Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Lesbian & Gay Task Force and other activists continue to maintain López'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.