Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Psychiatrist: Slaying suspect not fit for trial

Via: Caribbean Business PR

By: CB Online Staff

The confessed killer of 19-year old transvestite Jorge Steven López is not currently fit to stand trial for the grisly slaying, a government psychiatrist has determined.

Psychiatrist Rafael Cabrera urged Caguas Superior Court Judge Camila Jusino to send the 26-year old suspect, Juan Martínez Matos, back to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Río Piedras to keep him under evaluation by the medical staff there.

However, Cabrera acknowledged during a preliminary hearing that he is not certain whether the symptoms of psychosis referred to by the defendant are real, feigned or exaggerated.

Under questioning by prosecutor Yaritza Carrasquillo, the psychiatrist agreed that the facts that Martínez Matos says he cannot clearly remember are essentially those of the night of the crime.

The judge ordered Martínez Matos to undergo another evaluation on January 7 and set a new hearing on his fitness to face criminal proceedings for January 13.

Gay rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano was quick to criticize the court developments.

“Although full justice can never be done, as Jorge Steven is no longer with us, the process of prosecuting the confessed murderer in one of the most heinous crimes committed in the history of our country has been delayed again,” Serrano said in a statement .

López was decapitated and his partially burned body found in the Guavate area of Cayey last month. Martínez Matos was arrested and allegedly confessed to killing López and mutilating his body. He was charged with first-degree murder and weapons violations and jailed on $4 million bond.

Gay activists expressed disappointment that the suspect wasn’t immediately charged with a hate crime, saying authorities in Puerto Rico have never invoked a law covering crimes based on sexual orientation.

A 2002 hate crime law in Puerto Rico has not been applied to any cases involving sexual orientation or gender identity despite calls to use it more aggressively. A suspect convicted of a hate crime offense as part of another crime automatically faces the maximum penalty for the underlying crime. For murder, that would be life in prison.

According to the police investigation, the victim was dressed as a woman when Martínez Matos picked him on a street known for prostitution and took him back to his parents’ home for sex. The suspect has claimed he did not know López was a man and that he killed him in self-defense after the victim pulled a knife demanding payment for the sex.

Martínez Matos has also reportedly acknowledged a hatred of homosexuals because he was allegedly raped by a male inmate while serving a jail term for domestic violence several years ago.


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