Monday, February 11, 2013

Vélez Facing Hate Crime Charges For The Medina-Morales Homicide In Puerto Rico

Milton Medina-Morales and Richard Soto-Vélez

Vélez could become the first homicide suspect to be charged with a hate crime in Puerto Rico for killing Morales, a well known gay hairstylist in Puerto Rico.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 11, 2013

Moca, Puerto Rico - Richard Soto Vélez, 20, of Añasco is facing first-degree homicide by hate crime, attempting to hide evidence and the use of a dangerous weapon to commit murder in connection with the February 3, brutal homicide of Milton Medina-Morales, 43, of Moca. Vélez confessed to police that he killed Morales shortly after going on a fishing trip near Mayagüez. 
Vélez used a small machete to kill Morales, he then cut some of the victim's fingers and then place Morales body inside his Toyota Yaris and set the vehicle on fire to destroy evidence in an attempt to hide his crime.
Police discovered the vehicle in the Marias neighborhood and found Morales body partially burned inside.
Vélez bail was set at $2M and a preliminary hearing is set for February 20, according to court records.
Yamixa Negrón Rosado, the prosecuting attorney in the case is seeking a hate crime enhancer in the homicide against Vélez for murdering Morales who was gay. It will be the first time in Puerto Rico that the 2002 hate crime law will be use to prosecute a suspect accused of killing someone because he was gay.
Morales owned and operated his hairstyling salon in San Sebastian. He was well known in the Puerto Rican queen pageant circuit and helped numerous contestants win titles. His cousin, Kiaraliz Medina became Miss Puerto Rico 2012 and participated in the Miss America pageant in January. Morales was a key hairstylist and part of the Miss America pageant team for Medina, according to the Miss Puerto Rico Pageant Twitter account.

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