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Texas man pleads guilty in Minnesota rape case

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A Texas man pleaded guilty Thursday to an amended charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually assaulting a teenage girl last summer in Willmar.

Sentencing for Esequiel Gomez Jr., 21, is set for July 24 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Assistant County Attorney Dain Olson noted for District Judge Donald M. Spilseth that the charge against Gomez would be reduced from the first-degree level and that his 117-month sentence, nearly 10 years, would be an upward departure from state sentencing guidelines.

Gomez has been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $1 million bail since October, when he was extradited to Minnesota from Texas after DNA testing linked him to the July sexual assault.

Gomez is also charged with capital murder in the August 2011 killing of an elderly woman in Tulia, Texas. During Thursday’s hearing, he told the judge he intends to fight extradition.

According to previous information from 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 said she had been sexually assaulted around 2 a.m. July 29 near a footbridge over railroad tracks in Willmar.

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