Jurors in Martinez began deliberating late this morning in the case of a Brentwood man accused of fatally shooting a tenant on his property in 2006.Prosecutor Lynn Uilkema argued during trial that Robert Altes, 51, committed premeditated, first-degree murder when he shot Pablo Gutierrez, 23, on July 9, 2006, and then threw him on the floor in the back of a van with all his belongings on top of him.However, Altes’ attorney Thomas Fleming argued that Gutierrez attacked Altes and Altes shot him in self-defense.The shooting happened on Altes’ family property near the intersection of Lone Tree Way and state Highway 4, where Altes lived with his elderly parents.Gutierrez had been allowed to stay in a small camper on the property, but didn’t pay any rent.According to both attorneys, members of the Altes family were angry with Gutierrez because they thought he was stealing tools from their
shed and selling them to buy drugs.Gutierrez had been away for a few days, but returned to his camper on the afternoon of the shooting. When Altes’ father saw Gutierrez, he allegedly told his son that Gutierrez was back, Uilkema said.Altes allegedly went down to Gutierrez’s camper, confronted him and then went back up to the house. He went inside, grabbed a .22 caliber
revolver, loaded it and then went back outside to confront Gutierrez, Uilkema said.According to Fleming,
Altes only put one bullet in the gun and tried to fire a warning shot at Gutierrez, but the gun didn’t go off.At some point Gutierrez allegedly grabbed a plastic BB gun used for shooting feral cats and tried to fire it at Altes, but that gun didn’t go off either.Gutierrez then allegedly attacked Altes and tried to hit him with the BB gun and take his revolver, Fleming said.”If he had succeeded and gotten the gun from Mr. Altes, Gutierrez would be sitting here today,” Fleming told the jury during his opening statements on March 19.Fleming said Altes fired a single shot downward in self-defense, but the bullet hit an artery and killed Gutierrez.Uilkema, however, argued that when Altes went back outside to confront Gutierrez a second time, he became the aggressor.”He sought out this deadly conflict,” Uilkema said. At some point during the confrontation, Gutierrez was allegedly beaten, burned and dragged, Uilkema said. When police finally found him, his shirt was torn off, he was covered in sand and dirt and there were drag marks on his nose, shoulders and forehead. He also had a defensive wound on his hand and a cut and a burn on his head, Uilkema said.After the shooting, Altes allegedly told two tenants who lived in a doublewide trailer on the property that he had shot Gutierrez, Uilkema said.One of tenants called Gutierrez’s friends and told them to come get him.When Gutierrez’s friends arrived, they saw Gutierrez on the ground writhing in pain while Altes sprayed him with water from a hose and told him to get up, Uilkema said.Fleming claimed that Altes was spraying Gutierrez in an effort to revive him.Gutierrez’s friends couldn’t tell he’d been shot and thought he had just been beat up, Uilkema said.They didn’t want to call police because they had criminal cases of their own and didn’t want to get involved, but Altes allegedly told them if they didn’t take him off the property he would dump him in the Delta, Uilkema said.He later allegedly claimed that he had meant Sutter Delta, the nearest hospital, Uilkema said.Eventually the group agreed that they would call an ambulance and have it come to the Valero gas station on Lone Tree Way to pick up Gutierrez. Altes allegedly agreed to bring Gutierrez to the gas station and Gutierrez’s friends left to meet the ambulance.Altes allegedly put Gutierrez into the back of a van and then went into Gutierrez’s trailer, gathered up all his belongings and put them in the van on top of Gutierrez. After that, he put air in the van’s two flat tires and went in the house to borrow gas money from his mother.According to Uilkema, there were several other vehicles with inflated tires and gas in their tanks on the property that Altes could have used, but the van was allegedly the only one dirty enough to put a dead body in.Meanwhile, the ambulance came and left and still Altes hadn’t shown up with Gutierrez.When he finally left, Altes allegedly drove past theValero station where Gutierrez’s friends were waiting and went to a different gas station to buy cigarettes and put gas in the van. A Brentwood police officer flagged Altes down as he drove past the Valero station a second time, Uilkema said.When police searched the van, they found Gutierrez dead in the back.Fleming said that Altes had been on his way to the hospital when the police stopped him, but Uilkema said Altes’ actions were completely
inconsistent with someone trying to save Gutierrez’s life. “It’s a tragic situation for both sides,” Fleming said. He added that Altes had a right to defend himself.”This is a case about the value of human life,” Uilkema said. “This is the United States of America … You can’t execute someone for stealing (tools).”
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