San Juan, Puerto Rico CNN -- Several hundred gay activists rallied Thursday afternoon in Puerto Rico to demand a robust prosecution in the brutal slaying of a gay teenager nearly a week ago. Juan A. Martinez Matos was charged at a hearing Wednesday with first-degree murder and three weapons violations in connection with the killing of year-old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado.
The teen's decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body was found Friday afternoon on a road in central Puerto Rico. Luis Fortuno and prosecution of the case under the federal hate crime law.
Puerto Rico's gay community is asking authorities to investigate whether the slaying was a hate crime, said Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Serrano, a protest leader, said homophobia can be found among political and law enforcement officials on the island.
One politician, he said, recently referred to gays as "twisted and mentally ill. Another suspect, Martinez Matos, confessed to the slaying, prosecutor Yaritza Carrasquillo said in a statement.
I cut him and beheaded him and I accept it as a man. The broadcast also showed an encounter in a courthouse hallway between the handcuffed suspect and a man identified as Lopez Mercado's father. In the video, Martinez Matos asks the man for forgiveness.
On my part, you were forgiven a while ago. Puerto Rico does not have a hate crime provision in its criminal code, but allows prosecutors to ask that actions that could be interpreted as a hate crime be considered at sentencing. The United States does have a federal law on hate crimes, and a bill ed by President Obama last month extended it to cover crimes involving sexual orientation.
Puerto Rico is a U. If the U. The FBI is monitoring the investigation being conducted by local authorities but has not been asked to help, Agent Harry Rodriguez said Thursday. There have been no discussions on whether federal officials will ask that the slaying be classified a hate crime, he said. A spokesman for Lopez Mercado's family told Telemundo they were unaware the teen was involved in any kind of prostitution.
Martinez Matos, 26, was arrested late Monday at his home in the Mogote de Cayey neighborhood, said Wilson Porrata Mariani, a spokesman for the Guayama police district. Police impounded two cars and were investigating a home in another neighborhood, Huertas del Barrio Beatriz de Cidra.
Share this on:. Police say the body of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, 19, was decapitated, dismembered and partially burned.
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