An appellate court on Monday ordered the resentencing of a man who drew an 18-year prison term in a 1981 gang rape in Huntington Beach, but the justices indicated that he may well face the same punishment the next time around.
Tommy Gomez, 26, admitted his guilt in the attack, in which he and at least five other Santa Fe Springs gang members raped a local woman and beat her boyfriend on the beach early one August morning.
But Gomez appealed, arguing successfully that he was in effect penalized twice for the same crime.
In its ruling Monday, the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana noted that the “the facts are repugnant.” Nonetheless, the justices found that Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno had made procedural errors in failing to justify the 18-year sentence that he imposed on Gomez.
Briseno, the justices ruled, had unfairly cited the great violence and cruelty of the crime in sentencing Gomez to a maximum prison term on one charge, and then cited the same factors in requiring that he serve terms for convictions on both charges consecutively.
But even as the appellate justices upheld Gomez’s appeal and ordered a new sentencing, they noted that “a host of aggravating factors (in the crime) seemingly exist and might be used to reach the same result.”