Juan Gutierrez-Morales, 19, had a pre-trial hearing Wednesday at Ford County District Court for allegedly stealing a vehicle off the showroom floor of Lewis Chevrolet in Dodge City.
The theft took place on Jan. 21 at around 5:33 a.m. according to Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis.
Motions that took place were for whether or not witnesses would be sequestered during the jury trial along with if Gutierrez-Morales's confession to law enforcement officers would be admissible.
After testimony from several officers of the Dodge City Police Department and Ford County Sheriff's Office, Judge E. Leigh Hood ruled that Gutierrez-Morales's confession would be admissible.
"Nothing suggests that the questions Mr. Gutierrez-Morales answered during his interview were anything but given freely," Hood said. "The environment he was in was stressful but during that time the nature of the questions given are admissible."
Testimony from Sgt. Russell Fleming indicated that upon arresting Gutierrez-Morales, he asked him his name and where he was from to which Gutierrez-Morales answered with his name and that he was from Guatemala.
Gutierrez-Morales was then transported to the Dodge City Police Department where he was interviewed by Officer Carlos Acosta.
Acosta's testimony stated that during the interview, Gutierrez-Morales confessed to stealing the car from Lewis.
"He had described to me how he walked to the dealership, broke the glass then went and got gas from the gas station across the street," Acosta testified. "He then walked back with the gas and put it in the car where the keys were in.
"He then reversed out of the dealership breaking another glass as well as the back glass of the car."
Ford County Attorney then asked Acosta if Gutierrez-Morales asked for medicine or a psychologist at the end of the interview. Acosta said no.
Dodge City Police Officer Ruben Vela also testified as he assisted Fleming with the arrest of Gutierrez-Morales.
Vela, Fleming and Acosta all testified that Gutierrez-Morales had a laceration to the top of his forehead at the time of his arrest.
Fleming testified that the laceration was looked at by medical personnel and Gutierrez-Morales didn't require any further medical attention.
Defense attorney Lori Jensen asked Vela during his testimony if Gutierrez-Morales required stitches for the laceration. He replied, no.
The law enforcement officers also stated that they did not smell alcohol on Gutierrez-Morales at time of arrest however, Fleming said that he was, "jovial and laughing and happy" during the arrest, something "someone in that situation should not be feeling" at the time.
Jensen's argument for not allowing the confession was that, "Numerous people testified that Gutierrez-Morales had a laceration to his head that it was bleeding. He didn't get medical attention before hand and that his testimony could be the result of the head injury."
Hood's ruling on the motion was that, Gutierrez-Morales was "transported to the DCPD where he was interviewed by one officer in Spanish which was the language he preferred to have the interview in.
"He did not indicate further that medical services were needed and he understood and answered the questions verbally including each of the Miranda Rights that were given to him.
"Therefore, based on the statement he gave to Acosta, I find the statement be admissible."
According to Ford County Sheriff’s Lt. John Hunter, at least two sheriff’s deputy vehicles were struck during the incident.
"I am still going over the report of the incident," Hunter said at the time to the Globe. "I believe the driver struck one of the deputy vehicles and it caused one deputy vehicle to strike the other deputy vehicle.
"When the report came in of a stolen black Camaro, one of our deputies witnessed the Camaro, attempted to pull it over and it fled.
"The chase ended in the Cargill parking lot."
Gutierrez-Morales was charged with burglary; theft of property or services that value more than $100,000; criminal damage to property that valued more than $25,000; no vehicle registration; vehicle liability insurance required; aggravated battery on law enforcement officer, body harm to an officer with motor vehicle; aggravated assault of law enforcement officer with the use of a deadly weapon; interference with a law enforcement officer; misdemeanor obstruction, resisting or opposing; fleeing or attempt to elude law enforcement officer in the commission of any felony; reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle without a valid license.
Hood also ruled that the sequestering of the witnesses would not take place due to lack of argument in why they should be.
The 3-day trial is set for Sept. 11 at the district courthouse.
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