Judge delays ruling on Merrimack mom's request for shorter prison sentence
Melissa Gutierrez, 29, is currently serving 5-10 years in prison for the death of her 8-month-old son, Christian N’Tapalis, who drowned in a bathtub in 2011. Last June, she pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the case, at which time the court ruled Gutierrez could potentially have one year of her sentence suspended if she completes various parenting, substance abuse, wellness and life skills courses. According to court documents, Gutierrez has completed all of the relevant programs during her first year in prison.
“She has two other children, and she hopes to re-enter their lives,” said Sculimbrene. “Additionally, she has started correspondence courses to further her education, and being out (of prison) would make her eligible for different and better financial aid packages.”
Suspending the sentence now would give her less of an incentive to behave or continue with treatment for the next couple of years, Tencza wrote in court documents, requesting that the court wait to consider the one year suspension until November 2016.
“The court is impressed with the progress she is currently making in developing her life skills,” wrote Judge Charles Temple in his May 19 ruling.
“In the court’s view, the significant progress made by Ms. Gutierrez is tempered by the multiple disciplinary infractions. The court needs to see additional progress by Ms. Gutierrez without disciplinary infractions,” wrote Temple, who deferred ruling on the request for at least six months. Temple will address the matter after Nov. 12, according to court records. Court documents indicate that Gutierrez may have fallen asleep on the couch while water overflowed the bathtub where her two children played during the summer of 2011, eventually flooding the bathroom and causing water to leak through to the basement ceiling. While the youngest child drowned in the tub, her older son, James Blackington III, survived. He was 2-years-old at the time of the incident.