Gang member's murder trial delayed

Benito Gomez is scheduled to be tried in December in the death of Julio Cesar Martinez.

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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 last spring now is set to be held in December.

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

But the proceedings now are expected to start Dec. 6. This is the second delay, reportedly 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. on 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.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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