Gabriela Escutia, a twenty-five-year-old woman from Plainfield, Illinois was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Javier Barrios, in March of 2007, this week. The prosecutor had alleged that she lured Barrios to a shopping center along with others while toting a concealed pistol. She shot him in the side and would have shot again, but the gun jammed. Her accomplice, Ricardo Gutierrez, was accused of chasing Barrios onto a field after he had been shot by Escutia and then shooting him twice in the head. He was convicted for his part in the killing in 2013 and has since been sentenced to 68 years in prison. Plainfield, with a population of around 40,466, is located about 38 miles from Chicago. Sentencing for Escutia is scheduled for June of this year. She faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. Reportedly, Escutia had previously obtained an Order for Protection against Barrios and raised a “Battered Woman’s Syndrome” defense.
COMMENT: The issue of “Battered Woman’s Syndrome” is sometimes brought to bear where a defendant seeks to explain to the jury why she took the actions she did. It is intended to assist the jury in understanding her actions which may have been induced as a result of her victimization from an abuser (often verbally). Expert testimony is sometimes allowed to explain the concept. Sometimes the focus is on: (1) the belief that violence against the woman is her fault; (2) an ability to place responsibility for the violence elsewhere; (3) a fear for her life or others; and, (4) an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent (always present) and omniscient (knowing all things). Defense lawyers frequently use the argument in tandem with self-defense claims; prosecutors use it to explain away recantations by their victims.
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Escutia, 25, was convicted earlier this year for the 2007 murder of Javier Barrios outside of a Meijer gas station in Plainfield. She was one of two defendants in the case. Her longtime boyfriend, Ricardo Gutierrez, 25, was previously sentenced to 68 years in prison for his role in the murder. Gabriela was sentenced to 52 years.