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Holdrege man found not guilty by reason of insanity

Manuel Gomez was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the deaths of two men in Holdrege.
Manuel Gomez was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the deaths of two men in Holdrege.(KSNB)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 12:32 PM CST
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HOLDREGE, Neb. (KSNB) - A Holdrege man on trial for killing two men during a shooting spree in February 2019 has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Manuel Gomez, 48, of Holdrege, was facing charges of first degree murder for the shooting deaths of Raymond Burton and David Rogers. Both men were found dead at an apartment complex in east Holdrege. A third man, Doyle Morse, of Holdrege, was also shot and injured during the shooting spree.

Since his arrest Gomez has undergone numerous mental evaluations. At one point he was ruled incapable of defending himself at trial. But in July 2020, a judge ruled that he was competent for trial. In April of this year, Gomez’s attorneys notified the court that they intended to use an insanity defense for their client.

On Friday, District Judge Stephen Illingworth said that after reviewing mental evaluation reports done on Gomez, along with all the other evidence received, the court found him no responsible by reason of insanity.

According to court documents, one psychiatrist who evaluated Gomez found him “severely mentally ill with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia.”

The doctor said in his opinion that because of the suspect’s unregulated illness, he was experiencing such a severe exacerbation (psychosis) of his mental illness on February 21, 2019, that “he did not know or understand the nature and consequences of his actions when he shot Mr. Morse, Mr. Burton and Mr. Rodgers nor did he know that these acts were wrongful.”

The doctor said he ultimately concluded that Gomez would not have committed any of these acts if it weren’t for Gomez’s schizophrenia induced psychosis, delusional thinking and paranoia.

A second doctor retained by the State conducted a second evaluation and his report largely concurred with the first psychiatrist.

Gomez was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the first degree murder charges, as well as use of a firearm to commit a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, first degree assault and being a habitual criminal.

A hearing is set for Tuesday to determine whether or not he is currently dangerous to himself or others by reason of mental illness or defect, and will remain so into the foreseeable future.

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