03/03/2007

Md. traffic stop leads to murder arrest

By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Staff Writer

Greenbelt, Md. -- A routine traffic stop in Greenbelt last month led to the arrest of a Hyattsville man in connection with a 1993 homicide, Prince George's County authorities said yesterday.

Jose Maria Gomez, 41, was driving near the 6600 block of Greenbelt Road when he was stopped for a traffic violation by Greenbelt police about 9:35 p.m. Feb. 12. A computer check revealed that Gomez was wanted on an open warrant for first-degree murder.
 
Police first issued the warrant for Gomez nearly 14 years ago after they discovered the body of Arnold Velasquez, 31, with a stab wound to the upper body inside an apartment in the 7900 block of 18th Avenue in Hyattsville on Oct. 25, 1993. Velasquez was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.

During the investigation, detectives learned through witness accounts that Gomez, who was an acquaintance of Velasquez and lived in the same block, allegedly stabbed the victim during an argument.

Police obtained an arrest warrant for Gomez but soon learned that he had fled to Guatemala.

Investigators contacted the Guatemalan Embassy and advised officials that a warrant was on file for the suspect.

It was unclear when Gomez reentered the United States. Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a Prince George's County police spokesman, said the investigation into the case is ongoing.

Copeland said investigators were able to corroborate witness accounts of the homicide after interviewing Gomez a few days ago.

In a statement released yesterday, Prince George's Maj. Kevin Davis gave credit to the Greenbelt police in the arrest.

"The closure of this 1993 homicide case shows the importance of traffic enforcement and how the use of traffic stops as a tool can lead to closing much bigger cases," Davis said.

Gomez was being held without bond yesterday at the Prince George's jail.

Copyright 2007 The Washington Post

 

 

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