GOLDEN, Colo. — Giselle Gutierrez-Ruiz was 17 years old when he was charged with murder in 1997. He was tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Now, he could be released in a matter of days.
Gutierrez-Ruiz, 37, had his sentence changed Thursday, the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said.
He was resentenced to 19 years, 19 days in prison, the exact amount of time he has been incarcerated since his conviction in 1998, the district attorney’s office said.
Gutierrez-Ruiz is one of 48 Colorado prisoners who became eligible for resentencing after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles.
District Attorney Dave Young told the court this was an exceptionally unique case. Young told the court the victim’s widow wanted Gutierrez-Ruiz released.
“In 25 years of prosecuting murder cases, I have never had the widow come to me and say I want this man out of prison,” Young said.
Gutierrez-Ruiz was driving the car when a passenger, Able Martinez-Sanchez, fired at a vehicle they were chasing and killed Rumaldo Castillo-Hernandez. Gutierrez-Ruiz was convicted of first-degree murder under the complicity theory, the district attorney’s office said.
“A person may be convicted under the complicity theory if he or she aids, abets, advises or encourages the other person in committing the offense,” the district attorney’s office said.
Castillo-Hernandez’s widow asked the court to release Gutierrez-Ruiz, pointing out he has become an artist and donates his profits to Children’s Hospital Colorado, according to the statement.
“If my husband were here, his wish would be the same. He was a teenager. His whole life got destroyed,” the district attorney’s office quoted her as saying. “He didn’t get any opportunity in this life. He has helped the community. He does have the right to have a new life. With his resentencing, my husband will rest in peace and I will have peace.”
The district attorney’s office quoted Gutierrez-Ruiz as saying he is a different man now.
“Nineteen years ago I was a kid without any experience. I didn’t understand how beautiful life was or the damage I could cause. Because of me a man lost his life. Today I’m a different man. My biggest dream is to do good in life and to share my experience to help others,” he said.
Adams County District Judge Thomas Ensor commended Gutierrez-Ruiz for making something of himself while he was incarcerated, according to the district attorney’s office.
“You did it all yourself,” the statement quoted the judge as saying. “I feel the sentence already served more than makes up for your conduct.”