PUERTO RICO: Guilty Plea In Murder Of Gay Teen Jorge Mercado

Juan José Martínez Matos has pleaded guilty to the murder of gay Puerto Rican teenager Jorge Mercado (left), whose decapitated and burned body was found by a roadside last November. Mercado’s murder caused an international outcry and forced activists to pressure the federal government to ensure that the case was prosecuted as a hate crime by Puerto Rican authorities. Michael Lavers at Edge reports:

Martínez told the court he understood the consequences of his actions, and Judge Miriam Camila Jusino immediately sentenced him to 99 years in prison. Primera Hora reported López’s parents, Myriam Mercado and Jorge López, hugged prosecutor Yaritza Carrasquillo after the hearing. Mercado told the newspaper, however, Martínez’s confession was bittersweet for her and her family. “We are able to find a bit of peace in this aspect, but it still not going to return Steven,” she said. “But at least there is justice in Puerto Rico.” Jorge López evoked his faith. “I want to send a message to Juan (Casper) and tell him there is hope in Christ,” said López with tears in his eyes. “The lord has forgiveness for him, Irregardless of what has happened. God has a plan for him if he opens his heart to Christ. God will forgive him also.”