Man sentenced to 25 years for strangling girlfriend on prom night

HOUSTON – A jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday morning in the case of Eddie Herrera, the man who prosecutors said killed his girlfriend on prom night two years ago. 

The trial started Monday, and the jury began deliberations on Tuesday afternoon. 

He was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison. 

Herrera, now 20, was convicted of aggravated assault in the death of his then-girlfriend, Jacqueline Gomez, in May 2014 at a Hyatt Hotel on North Sam Houston Tollway. Authorities said he had been drinking and taking drugs on the night Gomez was killed.

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The prosecution on Monday played a recording of the 911 call made by Herrera's mother.  In the call, Melissa Martinez claimed that Gomez had been found unresponsive. She also told the dispatcher that she made several attempts to resuscitate her daughter. The audio concludes with paramedics arriving.

Mother of teen charged in prom date's death indicted

The first witness to take the stand Monday was a paramedic who testified that Gomez was dead when he arrived. When asked whether her death appeared natural, the paramedic said he "was not able to make a decision at this time whether this was a natural death."

Herrera admitted to choking Gomez with his hands, but said she was still alive, authorities said.

According to prosecutors, Herrera said he fell asleep and Gomez was on the bed next to him. When he woke up, he said he found her dead and called his mother, who was staying at the same hotel.

“Ultimately, we hope to prove that Herrera was responsible for the choking that contributed to her death, and get justice for Jackie,” Justin Wood, assistant district attorney, said. 

Martinez is also awaiting trial. She is accused of providing the teens with two bottles of Crown Royal and hydrocodone. She is also accused of dressing Gomez after her son called her and said she was unresponsive.

“Parents just have got to play their role and play the parent,” Wood said. “You can facilitate having a nice time at prom without going to these lengths.”

The defense claims the night was just a terrible accident.

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About the Authors:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.