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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Medina Cardona sentenced to 129 years for murder of Arellys Mercado Ríos

Arellys Mercado Ríos

By The Star Staff

Fajardo Court Judge Gema González Rodríguez on Tuesday sentenced Jensen Medina Cardona to serve 129 years in prison for the August 2019 murder of Arellys Mercado Ríos in Villa Marina in Fajardo.

Prior to his sentencing, Medina Cardona spoke out for the first time since the judicial process began.

“I hadn’t done it before, because I hadn’t had the opportunity. Arellys’ mother is not here, but I want to offer my deepest condolences and forgiveness in the name of God to the family and her brother,” he told the court. “It was a tough process, I have kept my sanity, I have had faith, for my parents, for my children that we must move forward and we are here leading the way. You have my file, my whole life is there. I have been a young, hard-working entrepreneur and what can I tell you, my resume is there. I had never had problems with the law.”

“What I can say is that there are cases in which situations happen that one has to confront them and make decisions,” Medina Cardona said in the courtroom of Judge González Rodríguez. “In this case, I was in a very difficult situation where my life was also in danger and at some point the statements will be made. But there is a process that has to be followed and respected.”

Following Medina Cardona’s statement in court, the mother of the victim, Nitza Rios, said “I don’t have any reason not to accept his remarks, although I did not hear him say he was sorry.”

“But I can’t accept his remarks to the effect that his life was in danger because my daughter was unarmed,” she added. “[On the day of the incident] they had come from a ride. He should have been a gentleman and instead thanked my daughter for keeping his cellphone safe.”

The judge sentenced him to 99 years for the crime of murder in the first degree, 10 years for the possession and use and illegal possession of firearms plus an additional 10 years for aggravating circumstances, and five years for aiming and shooting with an additional five years for aggravating circumstances, for a total of 129 years that will be completed consecutively. The sentence includes the time that he has already served in preventive detention.

Medina Cardona was found guilty of the murder on Oct. 28, two years, two months and 10 days since the crime occurred, and police and legal proceedings played out.

Medina Cardona’s defense anticipated that they would appeal the sentence.

“The process is not over yet. This is simply part of the process,” attorney Jorge Gordon Menéndez said as he left the Fajardo court. “We already have the errors identified.”

Yamil Juarbe, the prosecutor, responded to the press that “we are prepared and ready.”

“Already the secretary of Justice, through the solicitor general, has appointed staff from the solicitor general’s office to answer each of the proposals that they can do well, which I do not know what they will be because in practically two years and two months they have all done them,” Juarbe said. “But we are ready and prepared to defend this conviction.”

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández, established in a written statement that: “We are satisfied with the sentence issued by the honorable Judge Gema González Rodríguez to Jensen Medina Cardona because it is fair in view of the facts proven by the prosecutor’s office in court,” he said. “The murder of Arellys was a vile and despicable act that deserved the maximum penalty. We hope that this sentence will also serve as a deterrent for others who do not think about the consequences of their actions and have no respect for life. Know that the prosecutors of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice will not rest until justice is done to the victims. Our complete solidarity is with Arellys’ family, especially with her mother, Nitza Ríos, who has taught many of us a lesson with her mettle, strength and forgiveness. Once again, I thank the team of prosecutors from the Department of Justice, Diannette Aymat Frías, Yamil Juarbe Molina, Eduardo Beale Targa and Jaime Perea Mercado, not only for their work but for their sensitivity and empathy. No process is easy, as proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt requires arduous preparation, something that is often misunderstood in the public forum. But defending crime victims and getting justice done is always worth it.”

The murder of Mercado Ríos occurred during a confusing discussion over a cell phone on the night of Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 around 9:43 p.m. in the Villa Marina Yacht Harbor dock area, on Villa Marina Boulevard in Fajardo.

The 34-year-old, who worked as a sales manager for a company that owns several funeral homes, died instantly after being shot in the neck at the Villa Marina facilities.

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