TAMPA — Serving three life terms as an accessory to the 2001 murder of a Tampa police officer, Paula Gutierrez is out of legal appeals.
But she is not done appealing to the public for her release from prison.
At 8 p.m. on Sunday, Gutierrez will be featured on an episode of Court TV’s “Accomplice to Murder with Vinnie Politan.”
“We have this incredible library of cases at Court TV,” Politan said. “When I covered a lot of these as an anchor, it was about the principle of the crime and about the victims and the family seeking justice. But a good number of the accomplices are relatively ordinary, living ordinary lives who have no reason, no motive, to take someone’s life.”
Gutierrez claims that she, too, is a victim, forced to participate in crimes through mental, physical and sexual abuse by her then-boyfriend Nestor “Chino” DeJesus.
Her episode, titled “Florida vs. Gutierrez,” tells that story but also includes voices of those who believe she is rightfully serving a life sentence. It does so through interviews with Gutierrez, her family, a former attorney and those who worked alongside the murdered Lois Marrero, the first female Tampa police officer to die in the line of duty.
“Our laws treat accomplices, in most situations, the same as the principal of the murder,” Politan said. “We’re really delving into the how and why.”
On July 6, 2001, Gutierrez and DeJesus robbed a Bank of America in South Tampa. During their getaway, DeJesus shot and killed Marrero, a 19-year veteran of the department. The couple then broke into an apartment and held the tenant hostage. DeJesus died by suicide. Gutierrez surrendered.
The episode includes video surveillance of the bank robbery and hostage situation.
A jury convicted Gutierrez of armed robbery, armed burglary, and felony murder despite her attorney’s efforts to frame her as someone who was intimidated into committing crimes, appalled by DeJesus killing the officer.
The couple had a baby girl who is now grown, raised by Gutierrez’s parents. She, too, is in the episode, pleading for her mother’s release.
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“This crime, this decision that was made that day,” Politan said, “has now impacted generations.”
The “Accomplice to Murder with Vinnie Politan” episode titled “Florida vs. Gutierrez” airs at 8 p.m. on Sunday on Court TV.