Jury selection is slated to get underway Monday in the trial of an alleged topless bar killer who is charged with slashing two victims with a kitchen knife in a night of unprovoked attacks in Corona.
Jesus Gonzalez Gutierrez, 26, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and sentence-enhancing weapon and great bodily injury allegations for the 2015 offenses, which claimed the life of 67-year-old John Fuller of Sun Valley.
Gutierrez, who is being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, could face 37 years to life in state prison if convicted.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Charles Koosed ordered several panels of prospective jurors to the Riverside Hall of Justice Monday for screening as to their availability and fitness to hear evidence. Opening statements could be heard as early as Wednesday. Proceedings are expected to span about two weeks.
According to Corona police investigators and information disclosed during Gutierrez’s preliminary hearing last year, the defendant went to Racks Bourbon and Billiards at 1650 E. Sixth St. on the evening of Aug. 10, 2015.
Gutierrez allegedly had more than $2,000 in cash stuffed into his pockets, apparently gleaned from income tax credits and refunds, according to investigators.
Witnesses stated that the defendant was behaving oddly and took numerous shots of tequila while watching striptease acts in the bar. At one point, he turned aggressive with several of the performing women and was asked to leave, investigators said.
Gutierrez went to his Home Gardens apartment and allegedly retrieved a kitchen knife, then headed back to the topless bar. He encountered Fuller next to his vehicle in the parking lot and allegedly thrust the knife into the unsuspecting man multiple times, according to the prosecution.
The victim died at the scene.
Gutierrez then slipped back inside the bar and sat down next to another patron, identified in court papers only as “Alec,” who became uncomfortable because of how close the defendant was to him, prompting him to step outside for a breath of air, investigators said.
Within moments of heading out the door, Gutierrez allegedly came at Alec, slashing him in the chest, at which point the victim ducked back into the bar to enlist the help of a friend, according to prosecutors. The victim and his friend went after Gutierrez, chasing him for a half-mile before losing sight of him.
Police officers converged on the location and found the defendant hiding in bushes. He was arrested without incident. The knife was located nearby.
Less than an hour after Gutierrez was taken into custody, a passerby stumbled upon Fuller’s body in the bar parking lot and alerted police, who immediately connected the defendant to the attack, according to the prosecution.
Gutierrez has no prior documented felony convictions.
–City News Service
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