Newburgh man sentenced to 16-19 years in prison for death of popular Hudson Valley teacher

Prosecutors say Matthew Mercado cleaned up the crime scene and disposed of Jessica Lopez’s body, and they don’t believe his version of how she died.

Blaise Gomez

Feb 22, 2023, 5:39 PM

Updated 459 days ago


Matthew Mercado winked at News 12’s camera Wednesday when he walked into court but when the camera wasn’t rolling, he tearfully apologized for causing Jessica Lopez’s death. 
Mercado, from Newburgh, was sentenced in Orange County Court to serve 16 to 19 years in prison. 
He said he gave the 36-year-old Newburgh teacher, who he dated off and on, a fatal cocktail of drugs at the Windsor Motel in 2019 and never called for help when she overdosed. 
Lopez’s father screamed out in court that Mercado murdered his daughter. His son, Ernesto Lopez , gave a victim’s impact statement calling Mercado a cold-blooded killer. 
“You’re not human. You’re evil and demonic,” read Lopez. “I hope every night you see my face and it haunts you.”
Prosecutors say Mercado cleaned up the crime scene and disposed of Lopez’s body, and they don’t believe his version of how she died. 
“I believe 100% he killed her. I believe this was domestic violence,” said District Attorney Dave Hoovler. “I don’t believe for a minute that the facts are what he says them to be. I believe this man is a sociopath and a liar, but we are stuck with what the evidence is.”
Hoovler says Mercado has a long history of domestic violence against multiple women and believes he disposed of her body to cover up how Lopez died. 
Mercado admitted to wrapping her lifeless body in a bedsheet and putting Lopez in a dumpster behind the Price Chopper in Newburgh. 
Her brother said after court that their family is grateful this painful chapter is behind them. 
“We are just glad we got justice," said Lopez. "She was a beautiful soul, and we miss her a lot. We are never going to forget about her."
Outgoing Orange County Judge William DeProspo handled the case. He loudly scolded Mercado in court saying he doesn’t believe the defendant is remorseful and called him an “evil, sociopathic killer.”
Mercado was also sentenced for burglary for breaking into a motel room and stealing bags from occupants the night Lopez died. 
Lopez’s remains were traced to a landfill in Pennsylvania but were never found.  

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