Tucumcari woman ruled innocent of theft

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

A Tucumcari woman is innocent of allegations she tampered with evidence in connection with a 2008 theft of children’s gift cards from the Children, Youth and Families Department.

Magistrate Judge Buddy Hall ruled in favor of Bernadine Gutierrez during an April 7 hearing at the Quay County Magistrate Court.

“It is finally over,” Gutierrez said. “After a year and (more than) three months, it is all over. I knew they would see this was nonsense. I was not involved.”

Gutierrez’s attorney Donald Schutte said prosecutors could not establish that she had committed a crime.

“The state’s evidence was inadequate,” Schutte said. “We made a motion for a directed verdict. The court granted that motion, found Bernadine not guilty and dismissed the case.”

Tom Cassidy, county office manager of the local CYFD office, was present during the hearing but declined to comment on the case. Prosecutor Timothy Rose did not return a call seeking comment.

Gutierrez and her daughter, Jennifer Dominguez, were arrested on Christmas Eve 2008 after 11 gift cards valued at $25 each were stolen from the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department offices in Tucumcari.

Dominguez was charged with larceny and tampering with evidence and Gutierrez was charged with accessory to tampering with evidence.

At their arraignment Gutierrez pleaded not guilty while Dominguez pleaded guilty and waived her right to an attorney and a trial by jury. She was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

“My daughter did wrong, but they could have gone about this a different way,” Gutierrez said. “I was arrested without even being questioned.”

Gutierrez said justice has been served and she knew the court would prove her innocence.

Hall, from Fort Sumner, heard the case after Quay County Magistrate Court Judge Joel Garnett recused himself.