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Orange County NewsFor Immediate Release Contact: Christopher Borek February 22, 2023 845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c
District Attorney Hoovler Announces State Prison Sentence
In Death of Missing City of Newburgh Woman
Newburgh Man sentenced to a total of 16 to 19 years in prison in connection with burglary and the death of a 36-Year-Old Woman Missing Since November 3, 2019
Defendant Admits Providing Illegal Drugs Which Killed the Victim and Hiding Her Body
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Matthew Mercado, 40, of Newburgh, was sentenced to a total of sixteen to nineteen (16-19) years in prison for crimes he committed on November 3, 2019, at the Windsor Motel in the Town of New Windsor. On August 25, 2022, Mercado pled guilty 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.
At the time Mercado pled 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. Under New York State’s Good Samaritan Law, if Mercado had promptly sought medical attention for Ms. Lopez he could not have been charged with narcotics possession or even for giving the narcotics to her without compensation. Mercado was sentenced to seven and one-half to fifteen (7½ -15) years in prison on the charge of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, the maximum sentence available for that charge.
At the time Mercado pled guilty to Burglary in the Second Degree, he admitted that on November 3, 2019, at about 1:36 AM, he burglarized a motel room adjoining his room. At the time of the burglary, that room was being occupied by three female high school students. They reported that they were in bed and awoke to Mercado being present in the room. Mercado admitted stealing a handbag and bookbag from the students’ room. Mercado was sentenced to fourteen (14) years in prison and five (5) years post-release supervision for the crime of Burglary in the Second Degree, which was ordered to run concurrently with the sentence on the Manslaughter charge.
Mercado’s plea to Tampering with Physical Evidence reflects the fact that he hid Jessica Lopez’s 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. On February 22, 2023, Mercado was sentenced to two to four years (2 - 4) years in prison on the charge of Tampering with Physical Evidence, the maximum sentence available for that charge. That sentence was ordered to run consecutively to the two other sentences. As a result, Mercado was sentenced to a total of sixteen to nineteen (16-19) years in prison and five (5) years post-release supervision. The sentencing judge told Mercado that he was “a sociopath, a manipulator and a killer.”
Mercado admitted that he had wrapped Ms. Lopez’s body in a sheet with tape and initially secreted Ms. Lopez underneath the platform bed in the motel room they had shared. At the sentencing the defense attorney noted that police had been in the room before the defendant had removed Ms. Lopez and that police did not note any evidence of blood or violence. The sentencing judge pointed out that the absence of evidence was solely due to the defendant’s actions in removing evidence. At the time police were initially in Room 32, they were attempting to speak to Mercado in connection with the reported burglary next door and were not yet aware of a report of a missing person. The responding officers therefore had no reason or authority to search the room for evidence at that time.
As part of the plea agreement Mercado agreed to provide accurate information concerning where he secreted Jessica Lopez’ body to aid in the recovery of Jessica Lopez’s remains. After pleading guilty, Mercado admitted to disposing of Ms. Lopez’ body in a particular dumpster in Newburgh. Information obtained during the investigation from cellular telephone records and recordings indicated that the dumpster Mercado identified was likely where he disposed of Ms. Lopez’s body. An extensive search was made at the time at the Pennsylvania landfill which accepted the contents of that dumpster. District Attorney Hoovler personally went to Lackawanna County and spoke to the local District Attorney to facilitate the search and was also at the landfill when police officers and cadaver dogs searched for Ms. Lopez. Unfortunately, despite those efforts it is unlikely Ms. Lopez’s remains will ever be recovered.