A 32-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to an indefinite stay at a state mental health hospital for fatally stabbing his friend in Garden Grove, but if his mental health improves enough to be released, he must serve 14 years in prison for the attack.
Ubaldo Gutierrez Jr., whose last known address was Tustin, was found not guilty by reason of insanity of second-degree murder in a non-jury trial before Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett, who also ruled the defendant had moments of lucidity in the knife attack, so he was guilty of attempted murder.
Prickett also found true sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury on 19-year-old Cesar Bravo.
For the murder, Gutierrez must be committed to a state mental health hospital for at least 15 years, and if his sanity is restored before then, he will have to begin serving the 14 years in the attempted murder case for which the insanity defense failed.
Prickett awarded Gutierrez 2,048 days credit for time in custody while awaiting trial.
Gutierrez fatally stabbed Bravo about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, 2014, at the victim’s home at 11272 Mount Drive. The victim was declared dead at a hospital the following morning.
Prickett found Gutierrez not guilty by reason of insanity earlier this month in the bench trial because the defendant had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but had moments of lucidity during and after the attack on Bravo.
Bravo’s sister, Evelyn Bravo, said her then-3-year-old son and then-10-year-old daughter were close to the victim at the time. Her daughter did not want to attend the sentencing and hospital commitment hearing because, “She didn’t want to waste her time for an animal behind a cage,” Evelyn Bravo said.
“You took away her best friend,” she said. “They did everything together and you took that away from her.”
“Ever since you took my brother’s life with a knife, my son has been asking, `Why? Why,”’ Evelyn Bravo said. “I wish you and your family members could give him that answer.”
She said she misses her brother so much that she wishes he “could be reborn again,” and “I will find you, so we could be together again.”
Evelyn Bravo recalled going to bed the night of the attack and hearing “a very loud thump” in the living room and walking out of the room to see her brother on the floor. She said she turned him brother over and “that was the last time I saw him and he saw me.”
Evelyn Bravo said her brother wanted to help the defendant.
“When you needed someone to talk to you, my brother sat there and listened to whatever you had to say,” she said. “His friends warned him to stay away, but he said, `No, he’s not a bad person, he just needs someone to talk to.”’
The victim’s mother, Maria Bravo, said through a translator that her son was “friendly with the whole world,” and he was “bright and happy.” She said she also warned her son to stay away from Gutierrez.
“I saw the evil in the eyes of this person and I told my son please be careful with people, not everybody is good,” she said. “And the answer from my son was, `Mom, don’t judge a book by its cover. He just wants some time and I have the time to give him and I want to help him.’ That was my son.”
She said that she still finds herself waiting for her son, “but he’s not coming back.”
She added, “Not only did he kill my son, but he killed me too … Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any more tears to cry.”
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: