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Girlfriend charged in stabbing

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Authorities say Jonesboro man's stabbing death was not an accident after all

A Jonesboro man who bled to death in the parking lot at the Red Mule convenience store in Highland didn't die from a self-inflicted stab wound. Authorities now think his girlfriend, Veronica Gomez of Jonesboro is the culprit.

Gomez, 26, was charged June 6 with involuntary manslaughter, a class C felony, in connection with the stabbing death of her boyfriend, 29-year-old Juan Salinas.

If convicted Gomez faces up to 7 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Gomez was formally arraigned in Oregon County District Court June 6 and her bond was set at $50,000. She posted bond the same day.

According to Oregon County Mo., officials, Gomez admitted to stabbing Salinas just before she took a polygraph test.

"They were drunk and got into an argument," said Oregon County Sheriff Tim Ward. "She has been very distraught throughout the process and decided to come clean."

Ward said Salinas and Gomez were arguing while airing up an air mattress in the parking lot at the Flash Market at approximately 6:15 a.m. He said Gomez "poked" the knife at Salinas after he pushed her.

As the two began to wrestle, Gomez stabbed Salinas in his right thigh, Ward said.

"It cut that artery right in two," Ward said. "There was blood all over the parking lot. He didn't live too long after the cut."At the time of the stabbing, Salinas, Gomez and a male companion who has not been identified, were drunk and possibly high on drugs, said Ward.

He said the trio left the Flash Market and headed for the hospital in Cherokee Village.

"They saw a sign somewhere on the road previously," Ward said. "They didn't know the hospital was closed. Somebody needs to take that sign down."

After discovering the hospital closed, Gomez told investigators they drove to the Red Mule convenience store in Highland where they called for paramedics.

Paramedics were called to the scene at approximately 6:48 a.m., according to authorities. Paramedics at the scene tried to resuscitate Salinas but he died at 7:40 a.m.according to the Sharp County coroner.

Salinas, Gomez and their companion had been camping at the Sadler Falls campground prior to the incident.

Ward said he would not speculate as to what drugs the three had consumed, but Salinas' toxicology report, which will be released in several months, should let investigators know.

"I was told that they drove back to Jonesboro (before the stabbing) to get some cocaine, but that can't be proved at this time," Ward said.

He said he was unsure how long Salinas and Gomez had been dating.

"I know she's got some kids, but I don't think they're his," Ward said.

No one involved in this incident has been charged with DWI, Ward said.

Officials at the Sharp County Sheriff's Department said no DWI charges had been filed as of press time and they are not participating in an active investigation of the incident.

Did the hospital sign contribute to Salinas' death?

"You've got to question why a closed hospital would keep its sign up. It definitely caused some confusion in this case," Ward said.

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