Witness descriptions of popular Parlier football coach's shooting

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Popular Parlier football coach Artie Gomez was shot and killed in March of last year and a judge is now deciding whether Joel Valera should go on trial for his murder. (KFSN)

Popular Parlier football coach Artie Gomez was shot and killed in March of last year and a judge is now deciding whether Joel Valera should go on trial for his murder.

They come by the dozens, just as they did for his football games. But here in court, victory is defined much differently. Artie Gomez can't win back his life and his family can't forget how it ended.

"(A witness) said without warning, the neighbor raised his rifle and fired," said Fresno County sheriff's deputy Jesse Gloria. "He said he had no chance. He didn't have a chance to react."

Artie's son and some other family members watched it happen. They say it started with Joel Valera complaining about the Gomez kids throwing trash in his yard. The two men argued a little, but Gomez never left his own property before Valera blasted him in the chest. Another neighbor told investigators it didn't stop there.

"She said Mr. Gomez, ducked, turned and then ran back into the house," said Sgt. Thomas Rodriguez of the Parlier Police Department. "And then she heard a second shot fired."

She said Valera flipped her off, then just walked back into his house and didn't come out again until police convinced him to surrender. As he rode to the police department, Valera told a sheriff's deputy he was just defending himself, even though Gomez wasn't armed.

"He made comment about the neighbors always harassing him and his children not being able to play in the backyard," said Fresno County sheriff's deputy Eddie Cantu, who drove Valera.

Valera already had arrests in Tulare County for statutory rape, auto theft and domestic violence. A judge will decide Wednesday whether there's enough evidence for Valera to face trial for murder. If he's convicted, he'd serve a life sentence. He's also facing charges for attacking a guard during his 14 months in the Fresno County jail.



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crimetrackershootingmurderfresno countyParlier
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