Jury selection for his death-penalty trial is scheduled to begin Monday – almost five years to the day after a defendant allegedly gunned down a San Diego police officer.
Jesse Michael Gomez, 60, faces murder and attempted murder charges, with a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer.
He allegedly shot Officer Jonathan “J.D.” De Guzman, 43, and fellow gang-unit Officer Wade Irwin in the Southcrest neighborhood on the night of July 28, 2016.
De Guzman, a 16-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, died at a hospital, while Irwin, shot in the neck, was hospitalized for nearly a month.
Jury selection for Gomez’s trial is expected to take more than a week.
The trial, which includes separate guilt and penalty phases in capital punishment cases, could last as long as two months, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
At the defendant’s preliminary hearing in 2019, Irwin testified that as he and De Guzman were patrolling, they saw two men split up and start walking along the north and south sidewalks of Acacia Grove Way.
Irwin said he believed the man on the south side was someone he had previously arrested. De Guzman stopped the car and Irwin got out of the passenger side, leaving the door open, he said.
Irwin testified that he asked the man if he lived near the area and was shot “almost immediately.” He testified the gunman then approached the open passenger door of the patrol car and fired into the vehicle, where De Guzman sat.
After De Guzman was shot, Irwin said he drew his gun and fired on the shooter, who ran away eastbound.
Officers arrested Gomez in a ravine off South 38th Street, a short distance from the scene. He was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his upper body.
He remains jailed without bail.