By Teri Figueroa

The San Diego Union-Tribune


SAN DIEGO — A San Diego man was sentenced to loss of life Friday within the 2016 taking pictures loss of life of San Diego police Officer Jonathan “J.D.” De Guzman, who was gunned down behind the wheel of his patrol automotive.

Jesse Michael Gomez, 58, didn’t react upon listening to the sentence. He was convicted final yr of first-degree homicide and a special-circumstance allegation that Gomez knowingly killed a police officer. Gomez was additionally discovered responsible of tried homicide for taking pictures De Guzman’s accomplice, and of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

“He executed a police officer,” Superior Court docket Choose Frederick Hyperlink stated earlier than issuing the sentence. “He did not kill or shoot a police officer. He executed a police officer.”

Jesse Gomez (right), who was convicted of first-degree murder, listens to testimony during his sentencing hearing at the San Diego Central Courthouse on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Jesse Gomez (proper), who was convicted of first-degree homicide, listens to testimony throughout his sentencing listening to on the San Diego Central Courthouse on Friday, March 4, 2022. (Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

It is the primary loss of life sentence handed down in San Diego County in a dozen years.

De Guzman’s widow, Jane De Guzman, sat together with her arms folded and eyes closed as she listened to the decide converse. Earlier within the listening to, she spoke tearfully of the trauma of the lack of her husband, father to their two kids.

“I hope you understand what you might have finished,” she stated to Gomez. “I don’t perceive how you possibly can take somebody’s life with out considering of their household.”

Gomez admitted at trial that he shot De Guzman and Officer Wade Irwin the evening of July 28, 2016, when the pair tried to cease Gomez as he walked alongside a sidewalk on a darkish road within the metropolis’s Southcrest neighborhood.

De Guzman, 43, died that evening. Irwin was shot in his throat however survived, spending spent practically a month in a hospital.

The Superior Court docket jury that final September discovered Gomez responsible of all prices additionally really useful he be executed. On Friday, Irwin requested Hyperlink to condemn Gomez to loss of life, saying Gomez’s actions “destroyed individuals’s lives.”

“The time has come for Jesse Michael Gomez to pay along with his life for the selection he made on July 28, 2016,” stated Irwin, now a detective.

He later directed his feedback to Gomez.

“I need you to recollect my title and my face,” Irwin stated. “When the day involves execute you, I need you to look over, as a result of I can be watching. Similar to I needed to watch as you executed my accomplice.”

De Guzman and Irwin have been members of the San Diego Police Division’s gang suppression staff. They have been doing one ultimate patrol for the evening in Southcrest when a gunman opened hearth on them on Acacia Grove Approach shortly earlier than 11 p.m. July 28, 2016.

Irwin stated they’d noticed Gomez at a nook with one other individual and the 2 abruptly cut up up. That raised suspicion for De Guzman, so the officers drove up behind Gomez.

When Irwin received out of the patrol automotive and requested Gomez if he lived within the space, Gomez spun round all of the sudden and opened hearth. At trial, Irwin stated Gomez had an “offended, hateful look.”

After he was shot, Irwin fell again towards the automotive. He stated the gunman moved in towards the patrol automotive, coming inside just a few ft of it whereas persevering with to shoot. De Guzman was nonetheless within the driver’s seat when he was hit.

Though badly wounded, Irwin was capable of shoot Gomez earlier than he ran off. Police discovered Gomez in a close-by ravine, unconscious and bleeding.

Gomez — who had been consuming and had used methamphetamine the day of the taking pictures — testified that he opened hearth on the lads, considering they have been gang members issuing a problem — not law enforcement officials.

That, he stated, was as a result of they have been tailing him slowly in a automotive as he walked on the darkened road, and since Irwin requested him the place he lived — a query usually used as a gang problem.

In courtroom Friday, Gomez provided a short assertion.

“I need to let the De Guzman household know that this was not an intentional act,” Gomez stated. “If I may commerce locations with Officer De Guzman, I might. However I can’t, and I’m really sorry.”

“I advised the reality about what occurred that evening,” Gomez continued. “That is all I’ve to say about that.”

Hyperlink stated it was “ridiculous” to say that Gomez didn’t know what he was doing.

“He knew he was taking pictures an officer when he shot Officer Irwin, and he knew what he was doing when he put his gun inside that vehicle and emptied it on Officer De Guzman,” Hyperlink stated.

The decide rejected arguments from Gomez’s attorneys that the officers’ determination to pursue Gomez the evening of the taking pictures and the prosecution’s determination to pursue the loss of life penalty in his case have been primarily based on race.

Arguing that Gomez’s life must be spared, protection attorneys Troy Britt and Abram Genser famous that the 5 most up-to-date loss of life penalty instances within the county concerned three White defendants and two Latino defendants, one in all whom was Gomez, and that the White defendants have been capable of strike offers that led to sentences of life in jail with out parole.

Deputy District Legal professional Valerie Summers stated she was “outraged” by the accusation of racial bias.

Hyperlink, who presided over the trial, stated he took an in depth and thorough have a look at the case.

“There isn’t any proof right here displaying that any officer within the case or the District Legal professional’s Workplace has proven any bias in charging Mr. Gomez nor any proof that he was convicted due to bias,” Hyperlink stated.

Along with the loss of life sentence, the decide additionally sentenced Gomez to 65 years to life for taking pictures Irwin and for being a felon in possession of a gun.

After Hyperlink made his ruling, San Diego police Chief David Nisleit issued an announcement thanking the decide, jury and prosecutors within the case, and stated his ideas have been with De Guzman’s household and with Irwin.

“The decision and sentence can’t undo the ache, nor will it convey JD again, however I hope there may be some solace within the decide and jury’s determination,” Nisleit stated.

In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom positioned a moratorium on finishing up the loss of life penalty within the state throughout his time in workplace.

That doesn’t bar a decide from issuing a sentence of loss of life, nor does it preclude prosecutors from persevering with to pursue capital punishment in present instances.

Other than Gomez, there’s a second native case through which prosecutors are searching for the loss of life penalty. The defendant is Cesar Alvarado, who’s accused of killing a person mistaken for an undercover police officer and taking pictures and paralyzing a 19-year-old lady throughout a two-week crime spree in 2018. Alvarado is awaiting trial.

As of Friday, there have been 693 inmates on loss of life row in California. Not together with Gomez, 36 of them have been despatched there from San Diego County. The final was Derlyn Threats, now 40, convicted of killing a younger Vista mom throughout a house housebreaking in 2005.

©2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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