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Murder trial opens for New Milford man in stabbing death of estranged wife

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

After slashing his estranged wife’s throat six times, killing her, a New Milford busboy went home to his parents’ house to shower and was about to hop a connecting flight to Colombia from JFK when authorities grabbed him in Orlando, a prosecutor told jurors in Hackensack today.

A defense attorney for 27-year-old Pedro Gutierrez, meanwhile, reminded the jurors that the burden in the murder trial that opened this morning is on those prosecutors to prove their allegations.

Shaday Betancourth

Brian Neary, who’s heading the defense team, also objected to nearly everything that Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Wayne Mello said — as well as to his tone of voice.

Mello, known for powerfully dramatic presentations, should have used a monotone to deliver his message, Neary said.

Fellow defense lawyer S. Emile Lisboa admitted that the facts of the case are sensational. But he reminded jurors: “You must rely on the evidence and not on your feelings.”

“Mr. Gutierrez is presumed innocent,” he said. “We don’t have to prove he didn’t commit the crime. On the contrary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did.

“Don’t leave your common sense at the door.”

Authorities have said that Gutierrez confessed but told investigators that his estranged wife stabbed him first.

Pedro Gutierrez (STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)

The brutal murder, Mello said, was sparked by 23-year-old Shaday Betancourth’s desire to end the marriage. Gutierrez once even told friends that if he saw her with another man, he would kill them both, he said.

After breaking into his brother-in-law’s Teaneck apartment on Oct. 4, 2011, Gutierrez slashed the woman six times, “each capable of causing her death,” Mello said, noting that her carotid artery was severed.

Gutierrez was well-prepared: He brought a knife, zip ties, latex gloves and condoms to Betancourth’s brother’s apartment in Teaneck and took them with him when he left, the prosecutor said.

“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.

“Six times.”

Andres Bentancourth found his bloody, unconscious sister and, with a neighbor’s help, rushed her to Englewood Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, Mello said.

FROM LEFT: Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Wayne Mello, defense attorney S. Emile Lisboa defense attorney Brian Neary, Pedro Gutierrez
(STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)

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