Victim: Maria Ortiz

Drunk Driving Illegal Alien with 3 Prior DUIs Kills Woman and Pregnant Daughter

Perpetrator: Ignacio Gomez-Gutierrez

Crime Description:

On March 25, 2007, Maria Ortiz, 49, and her 18-year-old daughter, Vanessa, who was five months pregnant, were killed by a drunk driving, illegal alien Javier Calvillo Gomez-Gutierrez.

According to the investigating Houston police officer, Gomez-Gutierrez's blood alcohol was about three times the legal limit.

Police say he was speeding on Houston’s Eastex Freeway when his pickup slammed into the back of a 1998 Buick belonging to the Ortiz family. The two women were killed on impact. Gomez-Gutierrez did not stop at the accident scene, authorities said, but was captured farther down the road after being struck by another vehicle when he fled from his disabled car. Gomez-Gutierrez, who wasn't injured in the crash, kept running until a bystander pinned him down about a mile east of the accident, authorities said.

Prior to the accident that killed the Ortiz women, Gomez-Gutierrez had been convicted three times for drunken driving in Harris County, in 2002, 2004 and 2005.He was charged with, and convicted of, a class B misdemeanor in 2002 and 2004 and spent 60 and 10 days in confinement, respectively. By law, the 2005 DWI arrest was elevated to a third-degree felony. In the end, however, Gomez-Gutierrez was convicted of a lesser charge, a class A misdemeanor, and sentenced to one year's confinement.

Colleen Barnett, the assistant Harris County district attorney who arranged for a third DWI charge against Ignacio Gomez-Gutierrez to be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in 2005 said that she thinks a jury would have been equally lenient. "I was trying to find the best resolution for this case based on the facts, defendant's criminal history and what I think a jury might do. Juries aren't as hard-core as you think,". But she added, "In my wildest dreams, I would not wish anybody to be hurt, for something bad like this to happen. It's awful."

If convicted of a felony in the 2005 case, Gomez-Gutierrez would have faced two to 10 years in prison.

Gomez-Gutierrez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was never deported after serving any of his time in jail. Investigators have determined that Gomez-Gutierrez entered the United States illegally in Hidalgo, Texas, on May 1, 2001. He has not returned to Mexico since.

Luisa Deason, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman in Houston, said files are still being reviewed to determine if local law enforcement ever notified the federal agency about Gomez-Gutierrez's convictions before releasing him from jail.

Deason said that although legal as well as illegal aliens are subject to deportation for any crime, she is not necessarily surprised that Gomez-Gutierrez has been able to remain in the country following his numerous arrests. "It depends on where he was charged and whether the charges were misdemeanors or felonies," she said. Deason explained that ICE enjoys a very good working relationship with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. "We share databases and even have officers stationed at some jails 24-7," she said. Deason added that ICE will be notified prior to Gomez-Gutierrez's release on bond and that he may have to appear before an immigration judge to determine further action by ICE.

The victims' family members and others say Gomez-Gutierrez should never have been back on the road in the first place.

"We are so angry," said Sylvia Flores, 28, whose mother and younger sister died in the accident. "If everyone had done what they were supposed to do, they would still be alive. I don't want (Gomez-Gutierrez) to slip through the cracks again. He's just been given a slap on the wrist. No wonder he did it again."


28MAR07, Houston Chronicle
Suspect in fatal crash had 3 DWI convictions, by Cindy Horswell
Archived at: http://www.alipac.us/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=58655

29MAR07, Houston Chronicle
Prosecutor defends prior leniency given suspect in fatal crash, by Cindy Horswell

5APR07, The Observer, East Montgomery County, TX
Suspect in fatal accident has long history of drunk driving, by Stefanie Thomas