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Man Again Acquitted of Murder

Man again acquitted of murder

By J.W. Brown, Staff writer

For the second time in 17 months, John Gomez has been acquitted of murder.

"I want to be with my family now," Gomez said after a jury found him innocent of the July 1994 shooting deaths of Luis Alvarez, 30, and Juan Saenz, 19, at a party in the 700 block of West Magnolia street. He has been jailed 21 months awaiting the outcome of the case.

In November 1994, Gomez was exonerated in an unrelated murder case. A jury acquitted him then of the 1991 slaying of Jimmy Martinez.

Gomez was free on bail in the Martinez slaying when he was arrested in the Alvarez and Saenz deaths. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office filed notice with the court that it intended to seek the death penalty if Gomez, 27, was convicted of the double homicide.

Defense lawyer Bruce Blumberg, who represented Gomez in both trials, was embraced and thanked by Gomez's family and friends after the jury filed out.

But not everyone was pleased with the trial outcome. The courtroom was heavily guarded by sheriff's deputies when the verdict was returned late Thursday. Some of the victims' friends and family members stormed from their seats when the acquittals were announced. Deputies escorted Gomez's supporters from the courtroom.

Gomez admitted he was somewhat concerned about his safety in light of the acquittals and plans to move out of state. He said family members have received veiled threats.

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