MANCHESTER, NH – A 37-year-old man faces up to 30 years in prison after being convicted last week of the beating death of a homeless man in Victory Park in September 2021.
A Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District jury on Jan. 19, 2023, found Brandon Gomez, 37, guilty of manslaughter, negligent homicide and first-degree assault in the Sept. 30, 2021, beating death of Brian Berlo, 57, a homeless man.
Sentencing is set for April 21, 2023. Gomez faces up to 30 years in prison on the manslaughter conviction; up to seven years on the negligent homicide count, and up to 15 years on the assault charge.
Gomez, at the time of the assault, was homeless as well but living at the Families in Transition shelter at 199 Manchester St.
According to court documents, on Sept. 30, 2021, in Victory Park Gomez repeatedly punched Berlo, knocking him to the ground, after first accusing Berlo of stealing his cell phone.
A witness told police Gomez punched Berlo about six times in the face. He fell to the ground, stood back up and told Gomez he didn’t know what he was talking about.
Gomez, the witness told police, punched him again in the face. That time, Berlo fell over backward and hit his head on the ground. Berlo, the witness said, began “snoring” and struggled to breathe.
As he was on the ground, a second man also named Brandon, kicked him three times, mainly in the shoulder area, she said.
Brandon McNeil, 32, who also was homeless, was indicted on charges of manslaughter, accomplice to manslaughter, negligent homicide and second-degree assault.
Police learned of the assault when they were called at 7:50 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2021 about a man who was beaten in the park and was not breathing. When officers arrived, AMR medical personnel were treating Berlo, who was unconscious.
He was taken to the Elliot Hospital where police learned from medical staff that Berlo suffered bleeding on the brain and abrasions to his right forearm, left side of his face, left eye and on his tailbone. His upper lip was split and he had a gash on the inside of his left cheek.
He died three days later. His cause of death was blunt head trauma, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Hillsborough County Attorneys Shawn Sweeney and Elena Brander.
Police said the case was a challenging one, requiring a tireless search for witnesses. At the last minute on Friday, Merrill Beauchamp, victim witness advocate, located a vital witness in an encampment and brought them to the courtroom to testify.
“I am grateful for the initial response of the patrol officers to this incident as well for the excellent investigation that was conducted by the detectives assigned to this case,” said Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg.
“This case is an example of the Hillsborough County Attorney and the Manchester Police Department’s commitment to equal application of justice regardless of social status,” says Hillsborough County Attorney John Coughlin.