Convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

November 13, 2023

Carlos Sanchez listens to Judge Susan K. Sniegowski hand down the life sentence..

Convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — A 33-year-old Muskegon man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a first-degree murder conviction in Oceana County’s 51st Circuit Court Monday, Nov. 13.

Carlos Andres Sanchez was found guilty by a jury, Sept. 21, of first-degree murder and felony firearm for shooting and killing a 28-year-old Miguel Angel Gutierrez of Muskegon with a handgun June 12, 2022.

The trial for Sanchez Sept. 18, and the jury deliberated for about three hours before rendering a verdict.

Emotions ran high during the reading of a letter written by the murder victim’s mother.

Judge Susan K. Sniegowski also sentenced Sanchez Monday to a consecutive two-year term for the felony firearm conviction. Sanchez, who has been lodged in the Oceana County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond, received credit for 519 days served in jail.

“The sentencing in this case is mandated by statute, and there is no discretion,” said the judge. 

Miguel Gutierrez

Sanchez had no comment when asked by Judge Sniegowski if he wished to provide a sentencing statement. 

The murder occurred around noon in the backyard of a Rothbury area residence at 8537 S. Robinhood Dr. in Grant Township — the home of Crystal Ramona Gonzalez.

After murdering Gutierrez, Sanchez immediately fled the scene southbound on US 31 in his white pickup truck, but was quickly captured by law enforcement in Muskegon County.

Several witnesses testified during the trial including Gonzalez and many first responders on scene that day.

Testimony revealed that the victim suffered seven gunshot wounds. Dr. Jared Brooks, a forensic and anatomic pathologist, testified that the autopsy determined that the cause of death was “multiple gunshot wounds” and the manner of death was “homicide.” 

Deputy Michael Fillips, who was first on scene, said, “There were multiple bullet holes in the body.” Fillips also said he observed “a line of shell casings — in a straight line across the yard.”

“He just got out of his truck; walked towards us; and started shooting,” said Crystal Gonzalez. She testified that Sanchez is the father of her children. 

The motive for the murder appeared to be a “wife swap” situation. “Carlos was messing with (Gutierrez’s) baby mama, (and) we were just going to talk to each other and get to know each other,” she said of Gutierrez.

Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon reads a statement from the murder victim’s mother.

Gonzalez testified that Gutierrez had spent the previous three nights at her home prior to the murder.

“Standard criminal jury instruction 4.9 says the jury can consider a motive, but I don’t have to prove a motive,” explained Bizon. “I just have to prove that he did it — prove that he did, in fact, fire the shots that killed Miguel Gutierrez.”

Sanchez had no known prior criminal record, said Bizon. 

“Miguel had turned his life toward good while in prison, and three months after being released, he was murdered,” stated a letter written by his mother that Bizon read during Monday’s sentencing.

The Honorable Susan K. Sniegowski

The letter stated that Gutierrez had a troubled past, but he recently found religion to guide him to a better life.

The murder victim’s maternal grandparents passed away around the time of his death, the letter stated. His grandfather died two months before Guiterrez was murdered, and then his grandmother passed away six months later. “It was hard losing my parents but not as much as losing a son. He was a loving and very helpful young man.

“The day he was murdered, he got up and called us on Facetime. That day was very glorious. The call was very glorious. He blessed us. He repeated to us many times how much he loved us and that in December, he would come to Mexico. He wanted to teach all the young people about Christ, so they would not turn to crime.

“My husband and I forgave (Carlos) about two hours after the murder. We know where our son is, and he’s in a better place with our God. Nothing is impossible. If he still did not save our son from death, then God would have taken Miguel to heaven. God in his infinite wisdom brought him into his presence using the rebelliousness of Carlos.

“To all of Carlos’s family: we say with what is left of our hearts that we have nothing against you. We understand that you are looking for a way to free Carlos, and as a family, you have every right. We bless you and wish that your pain will be less with the help of God. God bless you all.”

Defense attorney Julie Springstead said paperwork for an appeal of the conviction has been filed.

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