New Mexico v. Gutierrez

Sixteen-year-old Defendant Oden Gutierrez confessed to shooting and killing Thomas Powell in Powell's home and stealing his car. Defendant was charged by criminal information with an open charge of murder, aggravated burglary, armed robbery for stealing a car while armed with a deadly weapon, and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. A jury found him guilty on all counts and he was sentenced to life in prison plus nineteen and one-half years. Defendant appealed his sentence. He raised several issues which fell into four categories: (1) the suppression of evidence pertaining to his confession; (2) change of venue due to prejudicial pre-trial publicity; (3) a double jeopardy violation for his convictions of both armed robbery and the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle; and (4) an unlawful sentence based on constitutional grounds, mainly that a life sentence was cruel and unusual punishment for a youthful offender. Upon careful consideration of Defendant's arguments, the trial record, and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court reversed Defendant's sentence and remanded the case for re-sentencing with instructions that a pre-sentence report be prepared. The Court also vacated Defendant's conviction for unlawful taking of a motor vehicle because it violated the proscription against double jeopardy in this case. The Court affirmed the district court on all other issues. View "New Mexico v. Gutierrez" on Justia Law