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Local sex offender to serve life for murder in Texas

WILLMAR — A 22-year-old Texas man, who sexually assaulted a Willmar teenage girl in the summer of 2012, will serve the rest of his life in a Texas prison for murdering an elderly woman there.

Esequiel Gomez Jr. pleaded guilty to murder for the August 2011 killing of Imogene Harris, 84, in Tulia, Texas. According to information from the Texas Rangers received Thursday by Willmar Police Chief David Wyffels, Gomez pleaded before going to trial and was then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

DNA taken from the Willmar sexual assault victim implicated Gomez in the Harris murder, matching DNA collected from her Texas residence. The city is in Swisher County in the northern panhandle of the state. The cause of the woman’s death was determined to be blunt force trauma.

In October 2012, Gomez was arrested in Texas and returned to Minnesota after the DNA testing linked him to the sexual assault and, subsequently, the murder.

Gomez was sentenced in August in Kandiyohi County District Court to nearly 10 years in prison on a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. He was then sent to the state Department of Corrections and was later extradited to Texas.

According to previous information from former Kandiyohi County Attorney Jenna Fischer, the then-14-year-old victim identified Gomez as her attacker in a photo lineup prepared by Willmar police. The girl reported she had been sexually assaulted around 2 a.m. July 29, 2012, in the area of the walking bridge near High Avenue Northeast in Willmar.

A police officer had encountered and identified Gomez in the nearby park at Robbins Island about an hour before police were called about the sexual assault.

The girl also submitted to an examination at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar. The DNA evidence recovered from her was examined by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and then was entered into the nationwide database of crime scene DNA.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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