Joseph Ruben Gutierrez

Wharton County 23rd District Court Judge Ben Hardin will hand down his sentence against Joseph Ruben Gutierrez at a hearing set for 9:30 a.m.

 

The 18-year-old Wharton man who admitted he tried to kill an El Campo police officer last June will learn his fate Thursday.

Wharton County 23rd District Court Judge Ben Hardin will hand down his sentence against Joseph Ruben Gutierrez at a hearing set for 9:30 a.m.

Gutierrez pleaded guilty Nov. 12, 2021 to a single count of attempted capital murder of a police officer after initially facing five counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer.

On June 13, 2021 Gutierrez fled from El Campo officers in an SUV with a 14-year-old driver behind the wheel, forced two police cruisers off the road and then directed the driver to stop.

Gutierrez then got out of the vehicle, fired two shots striking the front windshield of pursuing ECPD Officer Kendrick Matula’s cruiser before getting back in and directing the driver to flee.

The chase ended with a wreck at the intersection of Pinchot and Marion. The two fled on foot, but surrendered a few moments later.

Matula was hit by flying glass fragments and pieces of the dashboard.

Judge Hardin heard case evidence Nov. 17, 2021 from the prosecution and defense along with a plea for leniency from Gutierrez’ grandfather. A recently completed pre-sentence investigation followed.

Wharton County District Attorney Dawn Allison told the Leader-News Monday that she hoped for “a significant amount of prison time,” but offered no other commentary on the pending sentence.

During the sentencing hearing, the DA’s office presented evidence that Gutierrez had a juvenile record for drug possession and had been involved in a jailhouse assault on Oct. 10.

Gutierrez could spend the rest of his life in prison or any number of years behind bars, depending on the sentence 23rd District Court Judge Ben Hardin metes out.

Gutierrez, who is being held in the Wharton County Jail, waives his right to appeal as part of the plea agreement and will have to serve at least half of any prison time the judge decides upon.

The case against the juvenile driver is still pending.

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