Jowell Gutierrez, 36, was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison for firing a high-powered rifle at two Williams Police Department officers from his apartment building, endangering the lives of the officers and anyone who could have been in the area, Judge Mark Moran said.
One juror came to the sentencing hearing and spoke in Gutierrez’s defense. Juror James Dykes said he did not attend the hearing to take back his vote to convict Gutierrez, but instead hoped that Moran would be lenient on the 36-year-old.
Before the judge, he quoted one of the jurors from the day the jury delivered its verdict on the case.
“‘We did the right thing, but Jowell is not a cop killer and he does not deserve to be in jail for the rest of his life,’” Dykes said.
On Nov. 28, 2017, dispatch was informed of a suicidal subject, according to court documents. Later, Gutierrez’s mother called and alleged to the Williams Police Department that if police showed up, he would start shooting. When police arrived at the location, Gutierrez fired approximately 18 rounds out of his apartment without striking any officers before surrendering.
Gutierrez’s suicidal disposition was cited by his lawyers throughout the trial as his reason for provoking the police into shooting him. In late December the jury voted to convict Gutierrez of two counts of aggravated assault against a police officer and criminal damage.
The jury was hung on the two counts of attempted murder, showing that they did not feel there was enough evidence to prove Gutierrez wanted to kill the officers. At the hearing, Dykes thanked the police for their service and said he would never forget hearing Detective Robert Anderson testify about how he feared he was never going to see his son again.
Detective Jerry Wilson, the second officer at the scene, called Gutierrez a menace at the hearing for shooting at him and Anderson.
Ranita Sorensen, Gutierrez’s sister, opposed the way her brother was portrayed.
“Jowell’s not a menace. He’s an acting member of society. He’s in our community,” Sorensen said. “He’s worked three jobs and has five children who love him very much and have a mother and a brother for him always.”
When the judge spoke to Gutierrez, Moran acknowledged that the circumstances before the shooting were not in Gutierrez’s favor. He cited the 36-year-old’s inability to receive counseling and detox because he lacked health insurance.
The post-sentencing report showed that Gutierrez hopes to attend Narcotics Anonymous to treat an addiction to opiates, which he has taken since he was in his early 20s. The report shows that at the time of the shooting, he had alcohol and marijuana in his system and was showing signs of opiate withdrawal.
“It seems when you’re sober and not strung out, you’re a good man and attempt to provide for your family,” Moran said.
Moran also called the crime heinous for the power of the semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting.
“The danger you presented that day in the community of Williams was so great and outrageous," he said. "You threatened not just these two officers, but it could have been anyone in that neighborhood. It definitely calls for an aggravated sentence.”
Moran said that despite the verdict in the case, he hoped that Gutierrez would grow from his time in prison.
"I hope during your sentenced you find a way ... to go inside yourself to rise above and not let this act define the rest of your life," Moran said.