JOLIET – The trial for a Joliet woman accused of a 2007 murder was pushed back yet again Tuesday as the defense asked for more time because of issues with an expert witness.
Gabriela Escutia, 24, faces two counts of murder in the death of 18-year-old Javier Barrios. Ricardo Gutierrez, Escutia’s then-boyfriend and alleged accomplice in the murder, was found guilty and sentenced in July to 68 years in prison for his role in the slaying.
In December, a jury was selected and a trial was underway against Escutia, but a mistrial was granted after Defense Attorney Charles Bretz said the judge gave the jurors a false impression that their employers would pay them for time missed during the trial.
An employer is not required by law to pay employees.
A new jury selection was scheduled for Monday, but the Will County Courthouse was closed because of inclement weather. When court opened Tuesday, Bretz asked for a continuance because of the poor health of an expert witness’ husband and a trip the witness had planned. Prosecutors agreed, and the judge scheduled the jury selection for March 3.
The March trial comes nearly six and a half years after her initial incarceration.
On Oct. 28, 2007, authorities allege Gutierrez shot Barrios twice in the back of the head near a Plainfield Meijer store, according to the Will County State’s Attorney’s office. Barrios was running from his car, with Gutierrez in pursuit, after he was allegedly shot in the leg by Escutia.
Gutierrez stood over the victim and shot him twice in the head. Following the shooting, Gutierrez and Escutia went to see the horror movie Saw IV, the state’s attorney’s office said.
“This ruthless killer executed a defenseless man in cold blood on a busy thoroughfare in Plainfield,” State’s Attorney James Glasgow said in a news release at the time of Gutierrez’s sentencing. “The sentence handed down by Judge Policandriotes effectively takes a dangerous murderer off our streets for the rest of his life.”
Escutia has been in the Will County Jail on a $5 million bond since her Oct. 30, 2007, arrest.
Escutia and Barrios had been involved romantically, Escutia reportedly told police. Two weeks before the murder, Escutia filed an order of protection against Barrios, stating that he was physically abusive and shot out her car window with a BB gun, court records show.
Barrios left harassing voice messages, tried pushing Escutia down the stairs and asked her for money, she wrote in the order of protection.
The case was called Nov. 1, four days after the murder and two days after Escutia was arrested. It was dismissed when no one appeared in court.
Escutia is charged with first-degree murder and could face up to a life sentence in prison if convicted.