SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Jurors have reached a sentencing decision for the man convicted of shooting two San Diego Police officers in 2016, killing one of them.
Jesse Michael Gomez, 60, was found guilty earlier this month of first-degree murder for the death of 43-year-old Jonathan "J.D." De Guzman on July 28, 2016, with a special circumstance allegation of killing a police officer. The special circumstance opens the sentencing up to the death penalty.
The jury also found Gomez guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of De Guzman's partner, Wade Irwin, and a count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Thursday, jurors recommended the death penalty for Gomez.
While Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in 2019 placing a moratorium on capital punishment in California, the order, which will last for the remainder of his term in office, does not prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.
- Closing arguments set in penalty phase of trial for San Diego Police officer's killer
- San Diego man convicted of killing SDPD officer Jonathan De Guzman
- Man charged in shooting death of SDPD officer testifies in court
- Partner of slain San Diego Police officer takes stand in trial
Prosecutors said during the case that the two officers were patrolling Acacia Grove Way just before 11 p.m. that night when they saw Gomez and another man split up. Irwin testified that he and De Guzman followed Gomez at slow speeds in their patrol car, and got out and confronted him, asking something along the lines of "Do you live around here?"
Gomez testified that he opened fire because he didn't realize the two men were law enforcement and thought they were gang members. He said that line of questioning was gang terminology that means something violent will likely follow.
Prosecutors alleged that Gomez knew the two men were police and fired at them because he did not want to risk returning to jail.
Irwin returned fire after he was shot and De Guzman was shot, striking Gomez in the upper body, prosecutors said. A blood trail led officers to Gomez, who was found unconscious in a ravine nearby.
De Guzman died at the hospital, while Irwin was hospitalized for nearly a month with a gunshot wound to the throat.
In a statement, SDPD Chief David Nisleit said:
"Five years ago, San Diego Police Officer Jonathan 'JD' De Guzman was shot and killed and his partner, Detective Wade Irwin, was severely wounded. On September 13th, a jury convicted Jesse Gomez of murder and attempted murder.
In the years since his death, JD’s loved ones, Detective Irwin, and the entire SDPD family have looked forward to the day where the defendant would be held accountable for his heinous crimes.
The San Diego Police Department would like to thank the jury for their service over the course of this trial. We would also like to thank District Attorney Summer Stephan and her prosecutorial team led by Deputy District Attorney Valerie Summers and assisted by Deputy District Attorney Christine Bannon and Investigator Michael Riley.
The department honors the officers who worked valiantly to save the lives of Officers De Guzman and Irwin on July 28, 2016 and take the suspect into custody. Many of those officers courageously re-lived their horrifying experiences while delivering compelling testimony to the jury.
Despite the verdict, the De Guzman family continues to endure an unthinkable loss. We will never forget the sacrifice they and JD have made in service to our community."