Holdrege murder suspect found competent for trial

A judge has ruled Manuel Gomez competent to stand trial for the murder of two Holdrege men.
A judge has ruled Manuel Gomez competent to stand trial for the murder of two Holdrege men.(KSNB)
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 10:45 AM CDT
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HOLDREGE, Neb. (KSNB) - A judge this week ruled that Manuel Gomez, the man accused of killing two men in Holdrege in February 2019, is competent to stand trial.

Gomez, 47, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and six related felony charges in connection with the fatal shootings. Gomez is suspected in the February 21, 2019, shooting deaths of Raymond Burton, 65, and David Rogers, 54, both of Holdrege.

A third man, Doyle Morse, 64, of Holdrege was also shot and wounded during the shooting spree.

In addition to the two first degree murder charges, Gomez also faces three counts of use of a firearm to commit a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, first-degree assault and with being a habitual criminal.

Gomez was ruled not competent to stand trial last August. Since then he’s been held at the Lincoln Regional Center (LR|C|) for evaluation. During a hearing on May 7, 2020, prosecutors handed in a report from an LRC psychologist regarding Gomez’s fitness for trial. At that same hearing, Gomez’s attorney asked that his client be evaluated independently. Then on June 23, 2020, his attorney told the court that Gomez’ would not be evaluated by an expert of the defense’s choosing. Gomez’s attorney asked the judge to rule on the competency question based on the information submitted on May 7.

Judge Terri Harder Tuesday ruled Gomez competent to stand trial and ordered that he be transferred from the LRC to the Phelps County jail. An arraignment hearing, at which Gomez is expected to enter a plea on the pending charges, is scheduled July 23.

A Nebraska State Patrol press release outlined what happened the day of the murders.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., the Holdrege Police Department responded to a report of a shooting at 416 Logan Street. Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the incident. Additional crime scenes were then identified in multiple units at the Sunrise View Apartments at 1422 12th Avenue.

A short time later, a vehicle owned by Gomez was seen traveling in the north part of Holdrege. A short, low-speed pursuit ensued and the suspect drove to the Phelps County Sheriff’s Office where he was taken into custody without further incident.

Gomez is the only suspect in all three shootings.

Both Burton and Rogers were found deceased in separate units of the Sunrise View Apartments. Morse was able to call 911 after being shot at 416 Logan Street.

If convicted on the murder charges, Gomez could be subject to the death penalty.

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