PLANO, Texas — James Gutierrez, 38, of Plano, Texas, was sentenced to life in prison for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, announced Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis.
“No one should ever be in fear of being assaulted by a stranger while picking up dinner on the way home from work, let alone suffer a fatal punch. While it can’t bring the deceased victim back to his family, the jury’s verdict of life in prison is the right answer for a long-term, violently dangerous man who preys upon unsuspecting people just trying to enjoy their lives,” stated Willis after sentencing.
On July 31, 2020, the victim stopped at Little Caesars Pizza on E. Parker Road in Plano, ordered a pizza and waited inside. Gutierrez and his fiancé arrived a short time later, and also ordered a pizza. Gutierrez and his fiancé left shortly after ordering their pizza, and waited in their car.
Surveillance video collected from the Little Caesars showed there was no interaction between the victim and the defendant or his fiancé inside the store. When the victim walked outside with his pizza, he set it on the hood of his truck and was called over by Gutierrez. Gutierrez got out of his car as the victim walked over, and within seconds, Gutierrez punched the victim in the head with a closed fist.
An eye witness testified at trial that the victim looked confused as Gutierrez yelled at him. The eye witness said the victim never raised his hands towards Gutierrez, and Gutierrez punched the victim with a closed fist so fast the victim never had a chance to defend himself. Gutierrez and his fiancé fled the scene in their car.
Plano Police Department Officers Richard Varner, Luke Bedford, and EMS personnel arrived and found the victim completely unresponsive. The victim was punched so hard he suffered a fracture on the front forehead that traveled along the top of the skull and ultimately caused his death. Officer Bedford recognized Gutierrez from the surveillance video. Detective Robyn Busby investigated the case.
A Collin County jury convicted Gutierrez of aggravated assault. During the punishment hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that Gutierrez assaulted his fiancé while on bond, was a gang member, and had been previously convicted of several felonies, including aggravated assault, retaliation, burglary of a habitation, failure to register as a sex offender, and robbery. The jury assessed punishment at life in prison.
Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Ashley Briggs and Justin Dotzel prosecuted the case and were assisted by District Attorney Investigator Mike Smith. Judge Tom Nowak presided over the case.