Holdrege murder suspect to undergo second competency evaluation

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HOLDREGE, Neb. (KSNB) - UPDATE: Wednesday, May 29, 2019:

Manuel Gomez, the man accused of killing two men in Holdrege in February, will undergo a second competency evaluation.

After his last hearing in early May, it was decided he will be tested after it was revealed he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in the summer of 2018.

The state is now requesting a second evaluation saying they do not want to accept the first test's results at "face value". The attorney representing the state said there were too many ambiguities and inconsistencies. A privately employed psychologist will perform the second test.

The defense objected to this motion, but the judge allowed it.

Once the second evaluation is completed, there will be a hearing to discuss the results.

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The man accused of killing two Holdrege men in February wants a new attorney.

Manuel Gomez, 45, told a judge in Phelps County District Court Wednesday that he thought his lawyer was disrespecting him saying he has been calling him names like "schitzo" for being diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

Gomez also said Attorney Nancy Freeburg represented the mother of his child when she was accused of trying to hit him with a car. The mother did not face any punishment for the situation and Gomez says Freeburg would have a bias against him.

The other lawyer stated he believed due to Gomez's mental illness and he would have difficulty with any lawyer representing him.

There has been a request for a mental evaluation to be performed on Gomez. His lawyer said in court Wednesday Gomez was admitted to Mary Lanning in the summer of 2018.

The attorney stated the medical records show Gomez was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He was given medication for it at the time but has not taken the medication since last summer.

Gomez's attorney then asked him if he could turn over his medical records which Gomez replied angrily and called the attorney crooked.

The judge says a mental evaluation will be conducted at the jail most likely by someone from the Regional Center.

The state did not object to a mental evaluation. The date for the next hearing has not yet been set.

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Family members heard gruesome testimony Wednesday when witnesses described what they saw in the aftermath of a February 21 double murder in Holdrege.

Manuel Gomez, 45, is charged with two counts of first degree murder and five related felony charges in connection with the fatal shootings. Gomez is suspected in the shooting deaths of Raymond Burton, 65, and David Rogers, 54, both of Holdrege, on February 21.

During a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Phelps County Court, one witness described what happened when he went to visit his friend. Daniel Wittfoth said, "About 2:00 that day I was getting ready to head out when I heard the sirens go off. A few minutes later I decided well I'll just go over to Ray's (Burton) to his home and right when I rounded the corner I saw Ray laying on the ground."

Wittfoth went on to say that everyone in Holdrege knew each other. He is surprised this happened to his two friends, but wasn't surprised when he heard who had done the shooting.

Burton's neighbor, Waldeen Stockwell, ran out her front door when she heard a gun shot. "I actually seen Ray face down with his front of his body on the snow drift."

Stockwell described an older maroon car she saw leaving the scene right after she discovered Burton's body. It was similar to the car police arrested Gomez in later that day.

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 and first degree assault.

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

A Nebraska State Patrol press release outlined what happened February 21.

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.

Wednesday's proceeding in Phelps County Court was a preliminary hearing. The purpose is to establish probable cause that a crime was committed and probable cause that the suspect, in this case Gomez, committed that crime.

After hearing the testimony today, county judge Timothy Hoeft, ruled that there was probable cause and then transferred the case to District Court. Court officials today said they expected an arraignment hearing in Phelps County District Court sometime in April. At that hearing Gomez could enter a formal plea to the charges against him. The case could eventually result in a murder trial.

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