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Plano man gets life in prison for fatal punch outside pizza shop

A 38-year-old Plano man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for a sucker punch that killed another man who just happened to be picking up a pizza for dinner at the same time.

The victim had stopped at the Little Caesars Pizza restaurant on Park Road in Plano after work, ordered a pizza and waited inside.

James Gutierrez and his fiancé arrived a few minutes later and also ordered a pizza but decided to wait in their car.

Prosecutors said surveillance video showed the victim later walk out the restaurant with a pizza in hand. He puts it down on the hood of his truck as Gutierrez calls him over. Without any warning, Gutierrez punches him in the head with a closed fist.

Jurors heard testimony about Gutierrez gang affiliation and past criminal history including sex offenses before deciding his punishment. He was also accusing of assaulting his fiancé while out on bond awaiting trial.

One sucker punch and the victim died.

I didn’t see the video but I am almost positive that the victim lost consciousness when he was struck and fell over hitting his head on the concrete parking lot, possibly a curb or parking block.  Usually that’s the part that’s fatal.

The lessons here are two fold:

Maintain your situational awareness so you don’t get sucker punched.

A bare fisted punch from a grown man can be fatal, we need to make the laws relating to self defense acknowledge that.

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By J. Kb

6 thoughts on “Another one punch kill”
  1. A bare fisted punch from a grown man can be fatal, we need to make the laws relating to self defense acknowledge that.

    If the Leftists in the judicial system get their say, the law might acknowledge sucker punches from adult men as a lethal threat, but the precedent will impose a test: if you maintained awareness and had a chance to react, then it’s not a sucker punch and lethal force is not authorized.

    Whatever they can do to poke procedural holes in the written law and discourage armed self-defense, they will do.

  2. Self defense doesn’t work against a single unexpected blow that turns out to be fatal. So as J said, you have to be sufficiently aware that this doesn’t happen to you.
    Now, if you’re dealing with a adult male trying to punch you, given the established fact that such a punch can be fatal, it follows that (in a civilized jurisdiction) self defense with deadly force is then permitted. For example, the letter of the law in NH clearly says that. (I don’t know whether present-day DAs would obey that law, however.)

  3. Holy crap, I lived a mile away from that store. My kids went there.

    Notice, it’s Plano Texas. The guy got life, not let off. He’s lucky he didn’t fry for it.

  4. Which raises the question of “adequate prevention or defense.” I’ve got a plain baseball cap into which I have fitted a commercially available plastic liner, and a nearly identical cap is available with the same liner built in. It’s not defense against a brick or baseball bat, but it might reduce a severe impact to the level of being badly dazed rather than unconsciousness.

    It also provides no protection against swung fists that impact the front or sides of the head. Wearing something that does would look quite awkward, more like baseball batting helmets.

    So it sounds like “maintaining adequate buffer space” around oneself, something on the order of 2X average male human arm length, and enforcing that buffer is the answer.

    Social Distancing to the rescue !

  5. I’m a forensic pathologist. The two most common situations where one punch is fatal are an uppercut to the jaw in an unsuspecting or drunk victim, and a non-crumple fall hitting the head in an older person.

    The uppercut is fatal when the head is pushed upwards and rotated with hyperextension of the neck, which puts tension on the vertebral artery on one side. This artery can tear or dissect, resulting in bleeding to the base of the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage). Less commonly, the basilar artery or other intracranial artery will tear. In rare cases, most often when there is underlying disease or anomaly of the blood vessels, some authors claim that you can get a dissection or tear due to spasm or similar injury associated with rapid changes in blood pressure. In younger victims, there is a natural stiffening of the neck muscles when hit which spares the victim when hit. However, this response is dampened when the victim is drunk or if the blow is completely a surprise. Because this is usually a hyperextension injury, it can occur with relatively minor trauma if the head is “loose” on the neck.

    The non-crumple fall occurs usually when the victim slips and falls without the natural collapse sequence. Usually, we don’t die when we fall because we fall in stages — with some of the impact being absorbed by the knees, hips, or arms, and the head is usually spared or suffers minor trauma. In some cases, classically slipping on ice, there is a direct fall, often backwards, like a tree being felled, so that the head hits without any impact being absorbed elsewhere. In these injuries, there is usually a subdural hemorrhage. This injury occurs when the head hits the ground, and the brain basically sloshes and slides inside the skull. When this happens, the dominant doctrine regarding mechanism of injury is that small penetrating vessels from the skull to the brain are stretched and tear, resulting in bleeding into the space between the inner lining of the skull (the dura mater) and the brain. Since the bleeding is below the dura, it is called a subdural hemorrhage. This is more often fatal in older victims because the brain shrinks as we get older, and the brain has more room to deform under deceleration. In addition, older victims are more likely to be on anticoagulants and/or vascular disease, which increase the risk of severe bleeding.

    Falls from standing height are more likely to result in isolated head trauma that falls from greater height, and have a surprisingly high mortality when they result in head trauma. In one Australian study, falls from standing height *with head trauma* were associated with 28% 30-day mortality in men greater than 65 yrs old, and 18% in men younger than 65 (26% and 15% respectively for women). Note that this is a biased population (people who were transported to the hospital), and the number of falls without transport are not measured. However, if one falls from standing height and requires transport, the mortality is not trivially small.

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