On July 16, 2011, former Coral Gables police officer Peter Muñoz was involved in a fatal traffic accident that killed 23-year-old Jennifer Gutierrez. Although Muñoz was reportedly speeding and his blood alcohol level was.229, nearly three times the legal limit when his Volkswagen slammed into the back of Gutierrez’s BMW, he won’t serve time. As a matter of fact, he’s now a free man.
According to the Miami Herald, Muñoz’s attorney was able to have the blood sample suppressed. As a result of that ruling, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy threw out substantial evidence of Muñoz’s toxicology report based on “legal technicalities.” That piece of evidence was vital to prosecutors because it was the only information that proved the 27-year-old ex-cop was drunk at the time of the accident. The ruling forced prosecutors to throw out the charge of DUI manslaughter.
Once the DUI manslaughter charge was thrown out, prosecutors were left with the nearly impossible feat of trying to prove Muñoz was “driving recklessly.” Since there was no longer a way to prove recklessness, there was no choice left but to drop the remaining vehicular manslaughter charge as well. The state of Florida made that decision on Wednesday, November 12.
Just hours after the charges against Muñoz were dropped, Gutierrez’s mother, Marybel Rodriguez, released a statement in Spanish to CBS-Miami.
“Until the last moment I thought he would be charged with something,” Rodriguez said.
She also expressed her sadness over the loss of her daughter and the disheartening outcome of the case. However, she plans to focus on her granddaughter — Gutierrez’s daughter, who was 4-year-olds at the time of the fatal accident.
Muñoz’s defense lawyer, Alan Ross, released a statement on his client’s behalf. Needless to say, Muñoz is pleased with the outcome.
“My client is certainly relieved and grateful that the lengthy and difficult litigation that was necessary to obtain this result is finally over. What hasn’t been lost in all of this is the tragedy of this young girl dying in a fatal car accident. He still deals with that. His heart and mine and anybody would certainly go out to the victims family.”
According to Local-10, Muñoz is also eligible to reapply with the police department due to the charges being dropped.
Although the blood sample was thrown out for reasons that were reportedly “justifiable,” do you feel the ruling is injustice? Share your thoughts.
[Image via Local.10]