Mistaken Identity Causes Farmer 5 Months in Jail - NBC 6 South Florida

Mistaken Identity Causes Farmer 5 Months in Jail

Palm Beach police kept the wrong Julio Gomez in jail for five months

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    Cases of mistaken identity don't get much worse than what happened to Julio Gomez.

    The migrant worker has spent the past five months in jail, accused of murdering a man in Palm Beach County.

    But he was released recently after prosecutors and police detectives finally decided to listen to the man when he said, "You have got the wrong guy."

    Gomez wasn't lying.

    Police were actually looking for another Julio Gomez, who was also 25-years old, but born on a different date, the Palm Beach Post reported.

    The mix up occurred because farmer Gomez is an illegal immigrant and didn't have any documentation proving his date of birth. Add to that a witness to the Palm Beach murder told police after seeing a photo of Gomez that he was the right guy, and you have all the makings of mistaken ID.

    But while police stopped looking for a killer, the real violent criminal was still on the loose.

    In reality, farmer Gomez had never been to West Palm Beach, where police claimed he had killed Maciel Martin Videla in 2008. Gomez worked in Hardee County since 2004 and sent money back to his family in Mexico.

    He was arrested in February in Hardee for driving without a license and that's when Hardee County authorities saw a warrant for the other Gomez's arrest.

    He tried to tell authorities that he was born on March 15, 1985 and the guy they were looking for was born on Dec. 20, 1984, but no one would listen.

    "All this happened just because that guy and I had the same name," Gomez told the Palm Beach Post.

    It took five months for defense attorneys and a private investigator to prove to police they had the wrong guy. Investigators don't think it's their fault the man was stuck in jail for five months.

    And to add insult to injury, farmer Gomez is probably going to be deported because of his undocumented status. That would also likely mean he can't sue the police department for keeping him imprisoned.