Local vigil for Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado; suspect in killing may claim 'gay panic'

Sat. November 21, 2009 12:00 AM by GoPride.com News Staff

19-year-old jorge steven lopez mercado

As communities across the country remember Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, reports indicate suspect may claim 'gay panic'

Chicago, IL - The man charged with first-degree murder in the killing of gay Puerto Rico teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado in Puerto Rico will likely use "gay panic" as a defense, according to UPI.com quoting a police report.

According to a police report, Juan A. Martinez Matos, 26, a married father of four, murdered the 19-year-old after finding out he was a man. Matos confessed to cruising the red light district of Caguas looking for a woman.

Newspaper El Nuevo Dia reports that Matos confessed to taking Lopez Mercado to a house but "the suspect (allegedly) found out that Lopez was a man, after Lopez made sexual advances, and as a result of the rage, Matos did what he did".

Lopez Mercado's body was found on Friday by a road in the city of Cayey. He had been burnt and dismembered.

A gay panic defense, which is often controversial, argues a person acted in a state of violent temporary insanity.

Communities across the country, including Lopez Mrcado's hometown of Oakland, Calif., have expressed outrage by calling for an end to this type of crime. Chicago joins this response on Sunday from 4 p.m.to 6 p.m., with a peace walk through the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Illinois State Senator Iris Y. Martinez, will address the vigil, along with Illinois State Representative Greg Harris, the only gay man in the Illinois House. Latino elected officials and leaders from Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA), Boricua PRIDE, La Casa Norte, Orgullo en Accion, Vida/SIDA, Amigas Latinas, UNID@S, Young Women's Empowerment Project and others.

The walk will begin at the corner of Division St.and California Ave. and will end in a candlelight vigil at the Humboldt Park Boat House, 1359 N. Sacramento (Humboldt Blvd).