A Hudson Valley man has been sentenced to prison for the death of an area woman and then dumping her body, which was never found, in a landfill.
Orange County resident Matthew Mercado, age 40, of Newburgh, was sentenced to a total of 16 to 19 years in prison for the incident which took place on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, at the Windsor Hotel in the town of New Windsor, said Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.
In August 2022, Mercado pled guilty to manslaughter burglary, and tampering with physical evidence, in connection with the death of 36-year-old Jessica Lopez, of Newburgh.
At the time Mercado pleaded guilty he admitted that on Nov. 3, 2019, around 5 a.m., while he and Jessica Lopez were alone inside Room 33 of the Windsor Motel, he caused her death by giving her a variety of illegal narcotics and drugs, which caused her to have a severe adverse reaction, the DA's Office said.
When he realized Lopez was having a reaction he failed to obtain medical aid for her and instead kept her concealed inside the motel room where she died, the DA said.
During his plea, Mercado also admitted that Lopze could have survived if she received prompt medical care and his actions caused her death.
Mercado was sentenced to seven-and-half to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge.
He also pled guilty to burglarizing a motel room adjoining his room. At the time of the burglary, that room was 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. He was sentenced to 14 years on the burglary charge and five years post-release supervision to run concurrently with the manslaughter sentence, the DA's Office said.
In addition, Mercado admitted that he removed Lopez’s body from Room 33, of the Windsor Motel, placed her in the trunk of a car, and secreted her body so that it could not be found by the authorities. He was sentenced to two to four years on the tampering charge.
After pleading guilty, Mercado admitted to disposing of Lopez’s 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 her body, the DA's Office said.
An extensive search was made at the time at the Pennsylvania landfill which accepted the contents of that dumpster. Hoovler 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 Lopez.
"Unfortunately, despite those efforts, it is unlikely Ms. Lopez’s remains will ever be recovered," Hoovler added.
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