A single, fatal punch outside a Little Caesars in Plano landed James Gutierrez, 38, in prison for the rest of his life. Surveillance footage shared with The Dallas Express shows the assault.
A jury deliberated for less than an hour last week before handing down the life sentence, the Collin County court coordinator told The Dallas Express.
In May, a Collin County jury convicted Gutierrez of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury stemming from a July 2020 incident at the Little Caesars on Parker Road.
The jury saw surveillance of the victim (wearing a white undershirt and a beige button-up) entering the Little Caesars, paying for his pizza, and waiting inside the restaurant.
A short time later, Gutierrez (in a neon green shirt) and his fiancé pulled up to the restaurant and made their purchase. After paying the cashier, the couple returned to their vehicle.
There was no interaction between the two men inside the restaurant.
After workers gave the victim his pizza, he walked outside, placed it on the hood of his car, and unlocked his car door. Gutierrez then called him over, they had a brief exchange, and Gutierrez threw a single punch to the victim’s face, knocking the victim to the ground.
With the victim left unconscious in the parking lot, Gutierrez returned to his car, and the couple left the scene.
The surveillance footage from Little Caesar’s, provided to The Dallas Express, is available to view below. It captures the time Gutierrez and the victim spent together in the lobby and the incident in the parking lot. Note: some viewers may find this video upsetting.
An eyewitness testified during the trial that the victim looked confused when Gutierrez began speaking to him and that the punch came so quickly the victim had no chance to defend himself, a Collin County press release states.
After some time, a customer left the store to check on the victim, followed by a second customer, two workers, and another nearby witness. One of the individuals can be seen calling 911.
When Plano officers Richard Varner and Luke Bedford responded with EMS personnel, they found the victim unresponsive. Gutierrez punched the man so hard that his skull was fractured, ultimately leading to his death, the Collin County release states.
Bedford reviewed the surveillance footage and recognized Gutierrez. Detective Robyn Busby opened an investigation into the incident.
After the jury returned the guilty verdict in the case, prosecutors presented evidence of Gutierrez’s past actions during the sentencing phase, including several felony convictions, evidence of domestic violence, and gang association, the Collin County District Attorney’s Office stated.
The jury considered all priors in sentencing Gutierrez to life in prison, the DA’s Office said.
“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,” Collin County DA Greg Willis said. “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.