YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Jurors in Hackensack today convicted a New Milford busboy of killing his estranged wife by slashing her throat after tying her up and raping her.
Pedro Gutierrez, 28, sat at the defense table without expression and at one point put his head in his hands when the verdict finding him guilty of 11 of 12 counts — except armed unlawful entry — was read.
Members of Betancourth’s family embraced before later greeting prosecutors, others and court personnel warmly.
“This verdict is an answer to a prayer for justice for [them],” ssistant Bergen County Prosecutor Wayne Mello told CLIFFVIEWPILOT . “This entire jury gave six months of their lives to well and truly try this case, and by their verdict, speak the truth of the horrible murder of a young and beautiful woman at the hand of her husband, who should have been her protector.
“They are to be forever remembered for that sacrifice.”
Gutierrez likely faces a lifetime prison term when he’s sentenced on June 12 by Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi, who revoked his bail and ordered him held in the Bergen County Jail.
Gutierrez contended during the trial that 23-year-old Shaday Betancourth attacked him in her brother’s Teaneck home after they had bondage sex and that he stabbed her after wresting the knife from her.
Gutierrez knew exactly what would happen when he broke into his brother-in-law’s East Forest Avenue ranch house on Oct. 4, 2011, Mello Atold jurors during openings.
He’d seen Facebook photos of his wife with other men and even told friends that if he saw her with another man, he would kill them both, Mello said.
After discovering that Betancourth planned to move back to her native Colombia without him, Gutierrez went to his brother-in-law’s Teaneck apartment well-prepared, the prosecutor said: He brought a knife, zip ties, latex gloves and condoms.
“The beautiful young woman, who was in bed sleeping when Gutierrez broke in, was bound with zip ties and savagely raped,” Mello told the eight female and five male jurors.
“She was bound hand and feet, symbolically and all too terrifyingly real, before her death,” he added. “She was sexually assaulted…and she was brutally murdered by a knife held in the hand of this man, her estranged husband — the man who promised that she would be loved, she would be cherished, and in an act of ultimate domestic violence took that knife and slashed her throat.
Andres Bentancourth found his bloody, unconscious sister and, with a neighbor’s help, rushed her to Englewood Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Gutierrez flew out of JFK Airport soon after and was about to hop a connecting flight to Colombia when authorities grabbed him in Orlando, he said.
His bag contained what Mello called “instruments of death” — a cut-up T-shirt that Shaday Betancourth had worn to bed the day she was killed, a black bra sliced in half, zip ties that detectives said were used to bind her, a kitchen knife with her blood on it, a roll of tape, condoms, latex gloves (one of which Mello said was bloodied) and a bloody pair of men’s jeans.
Defense attorney Brian Neary said prosecutors didn’t present evidence of non-consensual sex or burglary or that the knife wasn’t already there.
If the murder was planned, Neary argued, Gutierrez wouldn’t have done it in the middle of the day or bought his plane ticket with cash at the airport.
His client was “frightened,” and “not diabolical,” he said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.