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Suspect in killing of Puerto Rico teen may claim ‘gay panic’ defense

Thursday, November 19, 2009
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Juan Antonio MartinezSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The man charged with first-degree murder in the killing of a gay teenager in Puerto Rico will likely use “gay panic” as a defense, reports UPI.

Juan A. Martinez Matos, 26, a married father of four (pictured), confessed he was cruising the “red light” district of Caguas, a city south of San Juan, looking for women and picked up 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado thinking he was a woman, a police report said.

When the two went into a house “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,” the report quoted in the newspaper El Nuevo Dia said.

Lopez Mercado’s dismembered, beheaded and burned body was found Friday on a road in Cayey, Puerto Rico, near Caguas.

A gay panic defense argues a person acted in a state of violent temporary insanity.

The U.S. attorney’s office weighed the possibility of charging Martinez Matos under a new federal hate crimes law, spokeswoman Lymarie Llovet told CNN.

A vigil is to be held Sunday in Oakland, Calif., where Lopez Mercado lived and was active in the gay community.

More from United Press International.

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