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Orange County NewsFor Immediate Release Contact: Christopher Borek August 25, 2022 845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c
District Attorney Hoovler Announces Guilty Pleas
In Death of Missing City of Newburgh Woman
Newburgh Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree, and Tampering with Physical Evidence in Connection with Death of 36-Year-Old Woman Missing Since November 3, 2019
Defendant Admits Providing Illegal Drugs Which Killed the Victim and Hiding Her Body
District Attorney to Recommend 17-19 Years in State Prison
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday, August 25, 2022, Matthew Mercado, 39, of Newburgh, pleaded guilty in Orange County Court to Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree, and Tampering with Physical Evidence, in connection with the death of 36-year-old Jessica Lopez, a City of Newburgh woman who was last seen on November 3, 2019, at the Windsor Motel in the Town of New Windsor.
At the time Mercado pleaded guilty to Manslaughter in the Second Degree, he admitted that on November 3, 2019, at approximately 5:00 AM, while he and Jessica Lopez were alone inside Room 33 of the Windsor Motel, he caused the death of Jessica Lopez by giving her a variety of illegal narcotics and drugs, which caused Jessica Lopez to have a severe adverse reaction, and that when he observed Jessica Lopez having that reaction he failed to obtain medical aid for her and instead kept her concealed inside the motel room where she died. Mercado also stated that at the time he saw Jessica Lopez having the reaction to the illegal drugs and failed to obtain medical treatment for her, he consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that she could die from the drugs. Matthew Mercado admitted that had Jessica Lopez received prompt medical care she could have survived and that his actions caused her death.
Mercado’s plea to Tampering with Physical Evidence reflects the fact that he hid Jessica Lopez’ body. Mercado admitted that at approximately 4:46 PM, on November 3, 2019, he removed Ms. Lopez’ body from Room 33, of the Windsor Motel, placed her in the trunk of Jessica Lopez’ car, and secreted her body so that it could not be found by the authorities.
As part of the plea agreement Mercado agreed to provide accurate information concerning where he secreted Jessica Lopez’ body, and further agrees to comply with all lawful requests of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and any law enforcement agency designated by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, to aid in the recovery of Jessica Lopez’s remains. Mercado also agreed to execute any documents necessary to prove in any legal forum that Jessica Lopez is deceased and what he had done with her remains.
District Attorney Hoovler highly commended the Town of New Windsor Police Department for their investigation and unceasing efforts in the case, as well as the many law enforcement agencies that aided in the investigation, including the Town of Newburgh Police Department, the City of Newburgh Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, and the New York State Police, as well as the civilian volunteers who have searched for Jessica Lopez.
Pursuant to the written Plea Agreement which was signed by all the parties and filed with the Court, the District Attorney’s Office will recommend that Mercado be sentenced to a total of seventeen to nineteen years in state prison when he is sentenced on November 15, 2022. Specifically, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will recommend that Mercado be sentenced to the following: seven and one-half to fifteen years with respect to the charge of Manslaughter in the Second Degree; fifteen years along with five years of post-release supervision with respect to the crime of Burglary in the Second Degree, (which the People will recommend is to run concurrently with the sentence on the Manslaughter in the Second Degree); and, two to four years on the crime of Tampering with Physical Evidence, (which is to run consecutively to the sentence of Burglary in the Second Degree), for a total of seventeen to nineteen years in state prison.
“I hope that this disposition proves some measure of closure to this remarkable young woman’s grieving family, friends, and former students,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “This defendant’s actions in giving her the illegal drugs, which he admits killed her, and preventing her from receiving medical care, which likely would have saved her, was made even more egregious by his cruel actions in hiding her body from her family and the police. Jessica’s family deserved better than not knowing what happened to their daughter and sister, and it was simply cruel to deny them the ability to provide a dignified way to inter her remains.”
The case is being prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Borek and Senior Assistant District Attorney Janine Kovacs.
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.