Plainfield Woman Gets 52 Years For Setting Up, Gunning Down Former Lover

Gabriela Escutia said she asked the cops to protect her and her baby from an old boyfriend and that she shot him down when they failed to help.

Gabriela Escutia. Credit: Will County State's Attorney's Office
Gabriela Escutia. Credit: Will County State's Attorney's Office
Gabriela Escutia said she didn't mean to kill the man she pumped a bullet into at close range after luring him to his execution.

"It was never my intention for Javier to die," the Plainfield woman said of Javier Barrios, whom she gunned down in a field off Route 59 in October 2007.

"I was scared of him, whether anyone on this earth wants to believe me or not," Escutia said before Will County Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes sentenced her to 52 years in prison Tuesday afternoon.

Judge Policandriotes could have given Escutia anywhere from 45 years to life. Prosecutor Tricia McKenna asked for a sentence at the "high end" of that range.

Escutia and Barrios were both 18 and romantically involved while another young man in her life, Ricardo Gutierrez, was doing time in juvenile prison. When Gutierrez's sentence was done, Escutia picked him up at the gates of the Illinois Youth Center in Joliet and they rekindled their relationship. A month later, she and Gutierrez, now 25, hatched the plot to kill Barrios.

Escutia said she set up Barrios' murder because she feared him.

"I asked the police for help on more than one occasion," she said during her sentencing hearing, telling how she believed she might only get the law's attention after she died.

Two and a half weeks prior to setting her murder plot in motion, Escutia obtained an order of protection against Barrios. In her petition for the order she claimed Barrios pushed her down, slapped her, and broke her car window and a headlight. Escutia also accused Barrios of harassing her and "calling and leaving messages."

Escutia supposedly feared not only for herself but for her baby daughter, whose father apparently is neither Gutierrez nor Barrios. Barrios' sister, Virdinia Barrios, said her mother helped Escutia take care of the baby while she was dating Javier Barrios.

On the day of the killing, Escutia orchestrated a meeting with Barrios near the Plainfield Meijer service station. She brought along Gutierrez and a woman identified only as "Troubles," as well as a gun and a glove to keep her fingerprints off the weapon.

Escutia walked up to Barrios' car and shot him once in the side before her pistol jammed. She then gave the gun to Guitierrez. He cleared the weapon and put another two bullets in the back of Barrios' head.

Gutierrez, who was hit with a 68-year prison sentence in July 2013, was "led by his nose" into helping Escutia carry out the murder, said his attorney, Paul Napolski.

McKenna also said Escutia was the one pulling the strings.

"She set this up. She planned it. She picked the location," McKenna said.

Escutia's attorney, Chuck Bretz, pointed out she was only 18 at the time and questioned McKenna's integrity for accusing the convicted killer of plotting the murder.

Attorneys "have an "obligation to present things with a matter of integrity," Bretz said.

"This isn't a gangster movie," he said. "It's just kind of sad."

Charles B. Pelkie, the spokesman for the Will County State's Attorney's office, called Bretz's remark a "low blow."

"The attorneys on this case and all the attorneys in our office have the highest degree of integrity," Pelkie said. "It is the height of hypocrisy for an attorney with Mr. Bretz's background to question the integrity of any person in our office."

Bretz once was in that office himself and held the position of first assistant state's attorney but lost his law license for three years after he was was "found guilty of attempted official misconduct for filing a false felony charge against a young Joliet man who had impregnated the daughter of one of his private clients," according to a 1995 Chicago Tribune story.

Bretz was sentenced to two years' probation, a $2,000 fine and 800 hours of community service, the story said. His law license was suspended from May 1996 to May 1999.

Escutia has been locked up in the county jail since shortly after the murder. Her six years and eight months behind bars will count toward her prison sentence.

After the sentencing hearing, State's Attorney James Glasgow disputed any notion she committed murder in self-defense.

“Gabriela Escutia is not a battered woman,” Glasgow said. “She is a ruthless and manipulative killer who orchestrated a hit on Javier Barrios. Only a jammed gun prevented her from carrying out this execution on her own. She and her partner will spend what amounts to the rest of their lives in prison for gunning down a defenseless man in an act of cold-blooded betrayal.”

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