Defense attorney claims slaying victim was police informant

When a 31-year-old man delivered a body to Ingleside police station last year, police and prosecutors thought they had an open-and-shut case.

On July 26, 2007, Jaime Gutierrez drove the body of Abraham “Spanky” Guerra, 37, to the station. Guerra had been hit with a shotgun blast, and Gutierrez turned himself in for the killing.

The District Attorney’s Office charged Gutierrez with first-degree murder.

But Gutierrez’s defense team said Monday during opening statements of his trial that the story is much more complicated.

Defense attorney Eric Safire said that not only was the dead man a known gang member who was extorting Gutierrez for money, but he also was an informant for the authorities.

On the day of the killing, Guerra drove up to Gutierrez’s classic-car repair shop with two other known Norteño gang members, Safire said. Guerra was armed with a handgun, demanding that Gutierrez pay him a portion of a recent car sale.

Gutierrez, fearing for his wife and daughters, went inside the shop and grabbed a shotgun instead, Safire said. After Guerra refused to leave, Gutierrez went to the passenger side door and shot the armed man in self-defense, Safire said.

Safire said Guerra was on parole at the time, while Gutierrez had turned his life around after spending three years in a gang as a teenager.

Prosecutors would not comment on Guerra’s role as an informant. They claim that Guerra was unarmed and killed in cold blood.

The trial continues today. 

bbegin@sfexaminer.com 

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