clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Man sent to Utah prison nearly three decades ago for murder seeks parole

FILE - An entrance to the Utah State Prison in Draper, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
FILE - An entrance to the Utah State Prison in Draper, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

UTAH STATE PRISON — Before Utah Board of Pardons and Parole member Denise Porter began the hearing for Andy Gomez, she told him she wanted to have very direct and blunt conversation with him.

“You’ve been here an awfully long time, on a really, really serious case with some really, really scary behavior,” she said on a recording of the June 18 parole hearing at the Utah State Prison.

In 1992, Gomez, then 28 of Cortez, Colorado, pleaded guilty to capital murder in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty. Gomez and another man kidnapped a Cortez gas station owner, 58-year-old George Bonds, during a robbery in 1991. They drove across the Utah-Colorado border along U.S. 666, and then beat him with a wrench, kicked him, choked Bonds with rubber tubing and slit his throat with a broken bottle.

But when that didn't kill him, the two men ran over him several times with the stolen car they were driving.

The men were arrested after Monticello police stopped them for suspicion of drunken driving.

Gomez was sentenced to life in prison. The plea deal was offered because prosecutors could not determine who was behind the wheel when Bonds was run over.

Unlike his past parole hearings when Porter said Gomez at times seemed to be “cranky” and “upset” just to be there, this time she noticed some behavioral changes.

“I don’t know, growing up I guess,” the now 54-year-old Gomez told her. “Learning a lot more. Learning to cope with people.”

Gomez was calm as he spoke at the hearing, explaining how life skills classes while in prison had taught him how to deal with his anger.

“I know if I get upset, I learned to walk away and think everything over before I react, and I go find someone to talk to, talk it out,” he said, whereas before, “I’d just fly off on a tangent and do what I want to do. And that always got me in trouble.

“I don’t get as angry, I don’t get as aggressive … I’d rather talk it out than get physically violent or physically upset about it. I feel better afterward,” he continued.

If he is granted parole, Gomez requested he be sent first to a halfway house to try and “stabilize” in a world that is much different than it was when he arrived in prison 27 years ago.

“Not just a little, a lot because everything has changed. I don’t even know how to use a transit system anymore … even a cellphone. I don’t know how to operate a cellphone. I’d need help with that,” he said.

Gomez said he plans to continue working once he is released, and may stay in Utah so he isn’t surrounded by the bad influences that got him in trouble in the first place.

“As long as I stay busy, I stay out of trouble,” he said.

The full five member board will now decide whether to grant parole.