Suspect in Puerto Rico gay teenager’s murder held on $4 million bail

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Thursday November 19, 2009

Puerto Rican prosecutors have charged the man accused in a gay teenager's brutal death with first degree murder and a variety of other weapons-related charges.

Judge Madeline Vega ordered Juan Martínez Matos held on $4 million bail. Matos reportedly confessed to murdering Jorge Steven López late last week inside his parents' apartment near Caguas. The 26-year-old father of four, who has a history of domestic violence arrests, allegedly decapitated, dismembered and burned López's body before he dumped it in a wooded area in Cayey.

López's father Jorge attended Matos' arraignment.

"I have already forgiven you, but the one you must ask for forgiveness is God," Jorge López said as translated from Primera Hora.

Jorge López also thanked officials who arrested Matos.

"Thank God justice has been done," he said after yesterday's hearing (as translated from Primera Hora.)

Matos, who cried as he left the court room, will reportedly claim he murdered López in a fit of "gay panic" after he discovered he was actually a man after he solicited the teen for sex. Local authorities have yet to decide whether to file additional charges against Matos under the Commonwealth's hate crimes statute, which includes sexual orientation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it may bring federal hate crime charges in the case.

Matos is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 7.

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.