BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A man sentenced to life in prison after a 1997 murder in Adams County will soon walk free.
Giselle Gutierrez-Ruiz was 17 when he was behind the wheel and a passenger started shooting out the window, killing an innocent man.
Both Gutierrez-Ruiz and the shooter were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“He didn’t hurt anyone. He didn’t know anything like that was about to happen,” said Gutierrez-Ruiz’s attorney Ashley Ratliff.
Ratliff was assigned to the case in 2011 and found several misteps by the initial defense team of Gutierrez-Ruiz.
“From the moment I started looking at it and meeting this young man, I just kept finding more and more things that just kept screamed injustice,” she said.
Adams County District Attorney Dave Young was recently tasked with reviewing the juvenile case. He met with Gutierrez-Ruiz as well as the victim’s family, who had some wishes of their own.
“(They) realized he was a juvenile when this crime happened, that he was the driver of the car, not the actual the shooter and thought that 19 years in prison was certainly enough time,” Young said.
Young decided to offer a plea and leave re-sentencing to a judge, who on Thursday decided Ruiz had done his time.
Gutierrez-Ruiz will spend time at the Adams County Jail until the paperwork goes through. He came here from Mexico and when he is released he will be deported, according to authorities.
The early release for Gutierrez-Ruiz is a result of a January Supreme Court ruling. Justices found it unconstitutional to automatically sentence juvenile killers to life without parole.