ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A man accused of killing his wife earlier this year is now back on the streets, all because of a technicality in court. So how was this able to happen if he’s still facing murder charges?
Jerome Gutierrez was released late last week. Now, the defense, prosecutors, and courts are all pointing the finger at each other for making the mistake.
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“In this case, that hearing was set in June,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney for Bernalillo County James Grayson. “The state was ready to proceed that hearing but defense counsel was not ready to proceed and asked for a continuance.”
Gutierrez, 54, is accused of beating his wife, Kristy Rivera, so badly, she was left brain dead. She was later taken off life support. In June, his defense attorneys requested the detention hearing be delayed until they got more details about the victim from the medical examiner but a hearing was never scheduled within 60 days, denying him his right to a speedy hearing.
“The state filed a motion for setting last week and received a setting,” said Grayson. “The judge released the defendant because the hearing hadn’t taken place within 60 days.”
As for why that hearing didn’t take place within 60 days, that’s where the confusion comes in. On June 9, Judge Cindy Leos ordered that the detention hearing be continued, stating, “the parties are to provide the court with a date for the hearing to be set.” However, days later on June 14, a different judge, Britt Baca-Miller, ordered: “the court will reset the detention hearing to a future date.”
Thinking the other was going to set a court date, neither the district attorney’s office, the suspect’s attorneys, or a judge did — missing the deadline. Judge Leos ordered his release on Friday.
“That could potentially endanger the public. This defendant is charged with second-degree murder,” said Grayson. “The state filed a motion because we determined that he was dangerous to the community.”
In the release order, the court says it was by no fault of Gutierrez that this happened and the release is an attempt to “remedy” the situation. Currently released on a GPS ankle monitor, he could end up back behind bars during a future hearing. However, the district attorney’s office says that’s too long of a wait.
“That’s the way the public is protected is with the hearing,” said Grayson. “It is a problem when someone is released without a hearing.”
Gutierrez’s next hearing is set for Oct. 14, however, the district attorney’s office says they do plan to file an emergency order with the New Mexico Supreme Court to get him back behind bars before then. In the meantime, he’s been ordered to have no contact with his young daughter or other family members while released.