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Kristy Rivera called 911 last month and told deputies her husband “slapped her around” and pointed a gun at her. Deputies said the 42-year-old woman had a “1,000 mile stare” and avoided eye contact.
But the husband, Jerome Gutierrez, denied the allegations and deputies said they saw no evidence of an attack on Rivera. They made no arrest.
Two days later, firefighters were called to the same home and found Rivera unconscious on the bathroom floor. Gutierrez told them she had fallen.
Doctors found Rivera had multiple brain bleeds, a spinal and pelvic fracture and injuries associated with choking. She has since been declared brain dead and will be taken off life support once her organs are harvested.
Now, Gutierrez, 54, is facing an open count of murder after deputies say he eventually told them he had beaten, choked and pointed a gun at Rivera in front of their 5-year-old daughter the night she called deputies.
Gutierrez was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on Friday. It is unclear if he has an attorney.
Bernallilo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jayme Fuller said deputies separated the couple for the evening after the initial incident. She said BCSO didn’t learn of the second incident, or Rivera’s hospitalization, until a friend contacted them to report the “suspicious circumstances” surrounding her injuries.
Victim Advocate Unit Director Jessie Fierro said Rivera’s behavior reported by deputies in the initial incident – staring off, avoiding eye contact, slow response – were “100%” signs of possible brain damage.
Fierro, with the Domestic Violence Resource Center, said physical signs of choking or a brain bleed wouldn’t be visible to deputies but that should not “hinder them” from calling an advocate out.
It’s unclear if an advocate was requested or offered to Rivera by BCSO, and Fuller did not respond to questions on the matter.
Fierro said with domestic violence calls “as high as they are” in Albuquerque the DVRC is not seeing as many requests “as we should be.”
She also said it’s becoming “more and more common” for offenders not to be arrested in “he said, she said” cases.
“I would really love for them to utilize our service on every single (domestic violence) call,” she said, adding that advocates are available to go out to the scene, speak to the victim and offer resources.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court:
On May 29, BCSO responded around 6:30 p.m. to a domestic violence incident at the couple’s home near Rio Bravo and Isleta SW. Rivera – who was “slow in her responses” – told deputies Gutierrez hit her and pointed a gun at her.
Deputies did not see any evidence to “indicate in their minds” the attack had happened. Gutierrez told deputies the two argued over an ex-boyfriend texting Rivera but that he did not hit her.
On May 31, firefighters responded to the home for a rescue call and found Rivera on the bathroom floor, bleeding from her ears and nose. Gutierrez told doctors Rivera fell and hit her head on the tub.
Doctors at the hospital told a detective that, due to her injuries, they would be taking Rivera off life support in the “immediate future.” The doctor said Rivera had multiple brain bleeds, one that was a few days old and one that was brand new, among other injuries that were not consistent with a fall.
Gutierrez initially maintained he had not hurt his wife, blamed her heavy drinking and said she called BCSO on him “for nothing.” The detective confronted Gutierrez about the injuries not matching his story.
“I told him the truth was the best way to go forward,” the detective wrote.
Gutierrez told the investigator that, the night Rivera called BCSO, the two argued and he slammed Rivera’s head into the wall. He said he also grabbed her by the throat with both hands and was “shaking her so she would stop arguing.”
Gutierrez told the detective he fell on top of Rivera and pointed a gun at her to scare her “because she called (BCSO).” He said their daughter saw the whole thing.
The detective then interviewed the daughter, who said “mom and dad fight with their bodies and it makes her scared” but she “did not feel comfortable” talking further.
Fierro, who has lost clients when domestic violence escalates, said she wishes they would have been called the first night.
“I would have loved for that to happen, to see if we could have taken her aside, spoken to her – away from the police, away from the offender – just so that she feels comfortable,” she said.
Fierro added, “getting an advocate out there would have been a great help to them… We need to be able to train deputies and officers directly on what we’re able to offer them in the field.”