A Texas mom tried to be cool and her son became a killer.
Mom bought the booze, supplied the painkillers, and reserved the swanky hotel room to ensure her son’s prom night would be epic. But the toxic brew and her son’s apparent penchant for rough sex choked the life out of his date.
“I put my hands on her neck and squeezed,” Eddie Herrera told Houston detectives when he was finally confronted and autopsy results confirmed 17-year-old Jacqueline “Jackie” Gomez had “deep hemorrhaging around her entire neck.”
For six months, the 18-year-old had tried to cover up the crime. Once he came clean, authorities charged him with aggravated assault resulting in Gomez’s death, and a Houston jury Wednesday quickly handed down 25 years hard time to the now-20-year-old Herrera.
“We were the last people to see them before they went up to their room,” a close friend of the couple, who requested anonymity, told The Daily Beast.
Unlike their high school friends, Herrera and Gomez weren’t planning on calling it a night to attend some after-party.
They had plans to go all the way.
“We were asking them ‘Are you going to the party?’ and Jackie said, ‘We’re staying here actually. We got a room.’”
And just before he and Gomez retired to their hotel room, Herrera promised to reconnect with his pals.
“I’ll see ya all later.”
“That haunts me right now,” the friend said.
“Miami Night” was the theme for the Aldine MacArthur High School prom held at the Hyatt Regency in North Houston, not far from the city’s airport, back on May 16 two years ago.
Herrera and Gomez were glowing with smiles and enjoying the dance and the food—anything but doped up or drunk. “It was a magical night and you could see they were so happy and ecstatic,” the friend said. “They weren’t drunk or even tipsy. I saw them multiple times and I was talking to them on the dance floor and where the food was.”
Yet the fact that they had reserved a room left little to interpretation.
“I assumed, OK, they got a room and we already know what’s going to happen,” the friend acknowledged.
But he was gutted to learn the next day that their goodbye just before midnight by the hotel’s stairwell was the last time he would ever see Gomez outside of a casket.
“We were on our way to a waterpark on that Saturday and next thing you know we’re getting news that a student died. Then on Instagram it’s like ‘R.I.P. Jackie,’” the friend said.
Each of her friends rang her phone and got her voicemail every time. Then a school bulletin made their fears official.
“It was fucked up. It was bad,” the friend says.
“The girls started crying and we were all saying how we were just with her, talking to her.”
Earlier that Friday, Michelle Martinez, Herrera’s now-40-year-old mother, drove over to pick up Gomez.
According to a 2015 civil lawsuit lodged against Martinez by Gomez’s mother, Juana “Annie” Barron, the mothers chatted, Barron agreed to permit her daughter to attend the prom with Herrera, and Martinez “agreed to chaperone Jacqueline and they agreed to bring Jacqueline home as soon as the prom ended.”
That didn’t happen.
Martinez rolled up with Herrera in the car to Jacqueline Gomez’s home. They completed a couple errands.
Martinez stopped at The Deerbrook Mall, the charging document states, so Gomez could get her hair dolled up.
Then Martinez made an alcohol run, according to the charging document.
Martinez bought two bottles of Crown Royal Canadian whiskey—one was a liter and the other was 375 milliliters in size.
They returned to Gomez’s house to mug for glamour photos, with Herrera decked out in a tuxedo and Gomez in a peach-colored gown flourished with sequins.
Unbeknownst to Gomez’s mother, the couple were going to spend the night together. And she would never see her daughter alive again.
Martinez “did not bring Jacqueline home as agreed,” the civil lawsuit states. When Juana Barron rang Martinez, Herrera’s mother allegedly lied and told her “she was taking Jacqueline and Herrera for dinner.”
In fact, Martinez had secured a hotel room at the Hyatt. She checked the couple in at around 7:30 p.m. that night.
And then, as she later admitted to police, Martinez allegedly gave the kids the whiskey and also some pills.
Assistant District Attorney Justin Wood said it best in court: “She wanted to be a cool parent.”
Martinez allegedly gifted her son 10 hydrocodone pills and five pills to Gomez. She has since been slapped with misdemeanor drug charges that carry two years’ prison time, but the trial date hasn’t been set, authorities said.
Martinez has not yet responded to claims in the civil lawsuit filed by Barron. Attempts to reach Martinez and her attorneys were unsuccessful.
According to prosecutors, Herrera flipped his story during his second interview with Houston detectives, which led to his arrest on Jan. 14 of last year—eight months after his prom date’s strangulation death.
Martinez also was taped admitting to giving the teens the hydrocodone pills, authorities said. Herrera echoed her claims, confessing to police “that his mom bought the alcohol and the pills,” Harris County District Attorney spokesman Jeff McShan said.
During the same interview, after being presented with the autopsy results for Gomez’s death, Herrera said the sexual asphyxiation was his date’s idea.
Herrera told cops that Gomez asked him, “Put your hands around my neck and squeeze.”
Initially, Herrera had told cops that his date had mysteriously died in her sleep. According to the charging documents, Herrera also told the police he “couldn’t ejaculate” because of the pills and Gomez rolled over to lie down on one side of the bed.
“We took a Snapchat picture of our faces and talked about our futures in life… I gave her a ring and we went to sleep,” Herrera claimed.
During the second interrogation by detectives, after Gomez had been buried, Herrera admitted he choked Gomez for “14 seconds.” The detectives even placed a timer on the table to count it off.
But the coroner at trial disputed this version of events, saying, “She wouldn’t be able to breathe or be able to talk about her future with that kind of pressure” on the neck after suffering extensive hemorrhaging.
In the civil lawsuit filed against Martinez, which asks for up to $1 million for the “physical pain and mental anguish that Gomez suffered during her last hours,” Barron claims that “in order to enhance the [sex] experience, Herrera choked Jacqueline.”
Herrera told cops that the young lovers fell asleep and when he awoke, he saw Gomez “on her back and she had dry blood coming out of her nose,” according to the charging document.
Herrera said he attempted to give Gomez CPR, to no avail.
In a panic, Herrera didn’t call 911, according to the charging document. Instead, he called his mother.
Fortunately for Herrera, his mom was was already en route to the Hyatt and when she reached the room—now a crime scene—she decided to “clean up,” according to court papers.
For two hours they allegedly made the damning evidence evaporate before instructing a Hyatt staffer to ring for help.
Assistant District Attorney Wood asked at trial: “What were they thinking for two hours?”
By the time help arrived, the 375ml bottle of Crown Royal Martinez was empty in the wastebasket.
The other 1 liter bottle was zipped up in Gomez’s purse. The pills that weren’t consumed, according to the charging document, “were flushed down the toilet.”
As for the lifeless and naked Gomez? Martinez, the charging document states, “put her dress back on and laid her back on the bed.”
The death of the beloved student rocked the Houston community.
Herrera responded to texts by a friend named Justice Gonzalez after posting sulking selfie photos on his Instagram account vowing “Gomez would not be forgotten” and that “I’m blessed everyday God still gives me,” according to the The Houston Chronicle.
“They said she overdosed,” Herrera wrote Gonzalez.
Before that, Gomez had been “perfectly fine and happy,” he texted, according to The Houston Chronicle.
He said Gomez was lifeless when he opened his eyes that morning.
“I woke up. I tried waking her but she wouldn’t… I was screaming and crying telling her to wake up. But she didn’t. She didn’t,” he wrote, adding two crying face emojis as punctuation, the paper reported.
As for mom’s five hydrocodone pills, Herrera was less forthcoming in his texts.
First he said to Gonzalez he “had no clue” how many Gomez had popped. But in the end, he said, he regretted playing around with chemistry. “I shoulda took them away and flushed em [teared frowning face]. I miss my girl.”
Gomez was known around Houston’s Aldine section of town as an “it girl.”
The 17-year-old had hoped to become a pharmacy technician and her untimely loss left so many heartbroken.
“She’s just so fun and she’s like that girl, that ‘it girl,’” the close friend of the couple told The Daily Beast. “She’s a friend that you can count on and was a good person.
“Just a good spirit to be around.”
While Gomez was all heart and soul, Herrera was also well regarded.
“He’s really cool, to be honest,” the friend said of the now-convicted killer.
“He was immediately accepted because he was going out with Jackie and we grew up with Jackie.”
In terms of Herrera going to prison, the friend isn’t sure that’s fair, either. “He received a lot of resentment after this and whatever happened I don’t think Eddie would do that.”
But calling his mom instead of 911 is unforgivable, said the friend. “Why would you wait so long to call the cops?”