Marion man sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole for murder

Christian Gutierrez, center, prepares to enter a guilty plea to aggravated murder during a hearing on Friday, March 17, 2023, in Marion County Common Pleas Court. Gutierrez pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 28 years. Also pictured are Gutierrez's attorneys Kandra Roberts, left, and Kirk McVay.

A Marion County man has avoided the death penalty, but will spend at least 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of another local resident.

Christian Gutierrez, age 20, Marion, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years plus a 3-year firearm specification after he pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder, an unspecified felony, when he appeared Friday before Judge Warren T. Edwards in Marion County Common Pleas Court. The judge also ordered Gutierrez to pay the maximum fine of $25,000 associated with the offense and all court and attorneys' fees.

Gutierrez pleaded guilty to shooting and killing Charles Lee-Allen Feliciano, age 27, Marion, during an incident on March 9, 2022, in a parking lot located in the 100 block of London Street, according to a report provided by the Marion Police Department.

Marion County Prosecutor Ray Grogan said Gutierrez shot Feliciano multiple times and three bullets were recovered from his body during the autopsy. Investigators recovered six spent shell casings in the parking lot. Police also recovered a handgun in the 100 block of West Farming Street, not far from the scene of shooting, where Gutierrez allegedly fled the scene in a car.

As part of the plea agreement, Gutierrez agreed to plead guilty to one count of aggravated murder, an unspecified felony, with a 3-year firearm specification. All other charges against him were dismissed, including the aggravated murder charge that carried with it a felony murder specification that could have led to Gutierrez being sentenced to death had he been convicted during a trial.

The prosecution and defense jointly recommended to the judge the sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 25 years plus the 3-year firearm specification.

Rebecca Mclean, Feliciano's mother, and Anais Feliciano, one of his sisters, expressed a broad range of emotions, including sorrow, anger, and frustration, when they addressed the court prior to Edwards publishing the sentence for Gutierrez.

"What this young man did to my son was just totally hate," Mclean told the judge. "That's a level of hate that a lot of people don't understand. You just don't get up and go hunting for someone and say that it was because of drugs. That's not how that goes. He hunted my son. That's not fit for society. That mindset, it's dangerous. With that type of mindset he'll do it again and again.

"I want you to look deep into this because he deserves, in my eyes, the death penalty. He took my child. He deserves to die, too. Will it make it better? No. Nothing can make this better. No matter what you give him is not going to make this better. He destroyed a lot of lives, including his family, too. Maximum is what I want. I'm asking you to go as high as you can go because my son is gone."

Anais Feliciano described her brother as "a loving person" who "lit up everyone's life" and "didn't deserve to die."

"Allen touched so many lives in his family and outside his family," she said. "My brother didn't deserve to die like this, and the person who committed this crime has a chance to still continuously have a life. Have a chance to have that freedom. To have hope. We don't have hope for Allen. We cannot do anything. We cannot bring him back. We are mourning to this day. We will continue to mourn for the rest of our lives because of this.

"(Gutierrez's) family doesn't have to mourn. His family doesn't have to hurt and miss him because he is no longer living. His family can get a phone call from him and hear his voice and feel that comfort while I have to sit here and go through old (voicemail) messages of my brother just to hear his voice. To hear his laugh."

Feliciano said the pain caused to her family by her brother's murder has been "unbearable."

No members of the Gutierrez family addressed the court. Gutierrez himself declined to say anything when Edwards gave him the chance to speak. The judge later said he was disappointed that Gutierrez did not take the opportunity to apologize to the Feliciano family when he was given the chance to speak.

In a prepared statement, Grogan said the murder of Feliciano "was intentional and cold-blooded" and that Gutierrez continuously denied responsibility until recently when he admitted to killing him.

"While Gutierrez deserves the death penalty, a jury’s decision to order it would’ve been the beginning of decades of slow appeals. And while taxpayers would’ve paid for those expensive appeals, Christian Gutierrez would’ve been able to continue his phony denials," Grogan said. "That’s why I recommended a sentence of 28 years to life in prison. When defense counsel agreed, the judge ordered that sentence. Now, for Christian Gutierrez, there will be no appeals, no more denying the obvious, and no more escaping responsibility.

"I’ve met regularly with the family of Charles Feliciano. These are good, caring people. They continue to grieve him and they deserved to see justice done once and for all. Justice indeed was done.”

Gutierrez was initially indicted by the grand jury on March 16, 2022, on three counts of murder, unspecified felonies; one count of aggravated murder, unspecified felony; and two counts of felonious assault, second-degree felonies. Each charged carried a 3-year firearm specification.

However, the prosecutor returned to the grand jury and secured a superseding indictment against Gutierrez on April 27, 2022. The superseding indictment included the following charges: two counts of aggravated murder, unspecified felonies; three counts of murder, unspecified felonies; two counts of felonious assault, second-degree felonies; and one count of kidnapping, a first-degree felony. The first count of aggravated murder carries a felony murder specification. All of the charges carry a 3-year firearm specification.

After Friday's hearing, Gutierrez was returned to the Multi-County Correctional Center in Marion where he will be incarcerated until he is transferred to the Correctional Reception Center at Orient in Ross County, where he will be processed into the state prison system.

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This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Marion man sentenced to life with possibility of parole for murder