Murder trial delayed until September

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WALLA WALLA -- The trial for a Walla Walla man accused of killing a rival gang member and shooting at others in a confrontation several weeks ago is now set to be held in September.

Benito Gomez, 18, had been scheduled for trial in Superior Court next week -- beginning Monday -- on the charges of first-degree murder and six counts of first-degree assault.

But the proceedings now are expected to start Sept. 6. The delay reportedly is to give the defense more time to prepare.

Gomez is accused of the premeditated killing of Julio Cesar Martinez, 20, who was shot twice in the head about 6 p.m. May 17 in an alley in the 300 block of Myrtle Street.

Martinez died later that night at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

Gomez was arrested May 21 and is being held in the County Jail on $1 million bail. A police report filed in court says he admits being a gang member and having been in the general area during the time frame of the shooting, but denies being involved.

Police say the killing -- the first gang-related homicide in the city -- occurred when what apparently was anticipated to be a more-routine turf battle turned deadly.

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