Juan A. Martinez Matos was arrested late Monday in connection with the slaying of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado (pictured), whose decapitated, dismembered and partially burned body was found Friday afternoon on a road in central Puerto Rico.
In addition to murder, Martinez Matos is expected to be charged with three weapons violations and one count of hiding evidence.
Prosecutors are weighing whether to recommend that Martinez Matos be charged under federal hate crimes law.
“The brutality of the slaying and the fact that he was openly gay leads us to believe it was very possibly a hate crime,” said Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, which means federal agencies have jurisdiction.
Last month, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which extends federal protection to illegal acts motivated by a person’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
If Martinez Matos is charged under the hate crimes provision, it is believed it would be the first such case under the latest addition to the law.
Full story at CNN.
Filed under: Puerto Rico