EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cristina Gutierrez's 1999 Maine Murder Case & Adnan's Library Alibi

Previously, I've written about how Cristina Gutierrez was involved in 6 first-degree murder cases in 4 different jurisdictions back in 1999/2000. Well, it turns out that she was actually involved in a seventh murder case in a fifth jurisdiction back in 1999. This one took place in Maine, and it possibly answers one of the biggest questions I have about this case.

In September 1997, 24 year-old Howard University student Joseph Glasco was indicted "in the Aug. 15 slaying of Paul Landre, 18, in the employees’ dormitory at the Colony Hotel" in Maine.

Glasco, who worked as a dishwasher at the hotel, allegedly killed Landre during a late-night argument over loud music. Glasco’s lawyer has suggested that his client acted in self-defense.

That attorney was Peter DeTroy, with Cristina Gutierrez later being added to Glasco's legal team. After Gutierrez was added to the team,

Glasco originally pleaded innocent by reason of insanity to murdering Landre. The aspiring drummer was shot eight times after he and Glasco argued in their dormitory at The Colony Hotel, where both held summer jobs.

Glasco’s family and lawyers contend[ed] that Glasco, because of his paranoid delusions and because he was the only black man at the mostly white hotel, became frightened for his safety when Landre banged on his door.

Eventually, however, Glasco pleaded guilty to manslaughter pursuant to a plea deal in which the prosecutor agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than twenty years incarceration. 

Glasco's sentencing hearing was held on August 20, 1999. At the hearing,

Gutierrez...asked Justice Paul A. Fritzsche not to imprison Glasco but to send him to a hospital in Maryland where he could receive full-time treatment for his mental illness and be cared for by his family.

Fritzsche opted to do both.

The judge ordered Glasco to serve a 15-year sentence at the Maine State Prison, with all but 6 1/2 years suspended. The jail time is to be followed by six years of probation in Maryland, during which Glasco is to receive intensive psychiatric treatment.

The timing of this hearing is interesting. As noted, it was held on August 20, 1999. Based on prison visit records, Gutierrez visited Adnan in prison on July 10, 1999 and then didn't visit him again until September. In between those two visits, there were only two visits by members of Gutierrez's legal team. The first occurred on July 13-14, 1999. This was the visit by Gutierrez's "substitute" clerk that led to the notes about Adnan's class schedule and library alibi on January 13, 1999.

The second occurred on August 21, 1999. This was the visit by the clerk who more frequently visited Adnan in prison. This was the visit that again led to notes about Adnan's class schedule on January 13, 1999 as well as notes about Adnan's role in planning Hae's memorial service.

Previously, I had wondered why the clerk who visited Adnan on August 20th covered largely the same territory as the clerk who visited Adnan on July 13-14. I figured that there must have been some failure to communicate between the clerks, leading to largely duplicative efforts.

This information about Gutierrez, however, adds context. It seems like, at the time that the "substitute" clerk visited Adnan or soon thereafter, Gutierrez began working on the Maine murder case in earnest and turned her attention away from Adnan's case. It would make sense that Gutierrez had to devote a lot of attention to the Maine case; the sentencing hearing was "unusual for its length," and

Glasco's defense lawyers called two experts -- Dr. James Maier, a Maine psychiatrist, and Dr. John L. Lyon, a Baltimore psychiatrist who specializes in violence -- to testify that the best thing for Glasco would be to send him to a hospital, not jail.

That Maine case ended on August 20, 1999.

At this point, Gutierrez should have (already) followed up on the information from the "substitute" clerk's July 13-14 visit, such as the library alibi; instead, upon returning to Maryland, she seemingly was unaware of this information and instead, the next day, sent the main clerk to get information that the "substitute" clerk had already gathered. In the process, investigation of the library alibi quite possibly fell through the cracks.



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Is there any documentation how big CG staff was? It seems like she had an extraordinary caseload. Did she have adequate office staff and support personnel to handle it? Is it ethical for a lawyer to take on more work than they could possibly handle, if that's what was happening here?

Posted by: Pdxkat | Oct 13, 2015 7:40:17 AM

I think there were 6 attorneys at the firm and at least a handful of clerks, including 4 (I think) working on Adnan's case. It is not ethical to take on more cases than you can handle, and it is clear that Gutierrez took on more cases than she could handle.

Posted by: Colin | Oct 13, 2015 7:42:24 AM

Since CG had taken on more than she could handle, could that contribute to ineffective counsel?

Posted by: Penny | Oct 13, 2015 8:37:30 AM

I think CG was providing bad counsel to every one of her clients during this time, but I also feel for her, as she was apparently suffering the onset of MS, which would have left her confused, anxious, physically weak and definitely not herself.

I'm not excusing her actions, especially since she was in a position to influence life and death decisions, just trying to understand.

Posted by: Karen | Oct 13, 2015 9:44:46 AM

This makes complete sense of why there are such holes in the defense. Such a sad choice of a lawyer.

Posted by: Ruth | Oct 13, 2015 10:09:13 AM

" It is not ethical to take on more cases than you can handle." Does this have anything to do with her issues within the firm. Serial mentioned that she had been sued by another partner and you posted documents showing that there was oversight on her work in place even before her errors in Adnan's case. Does her overload expose the firm to risk? Or does the liability stay with Gutierrez' practice?
And are the four clerks also overstretched? Do they work only for Gutierrez? Or, are they resources for the firm?
My question is really about how this happens while there are other partners and how they might have been effected. Did it hurt them when she was disbarred? I imagine it does not look good for a partnership when one of the partners is caught defrauding clients.

Posted by: boo | Oct 13, 2015 11:17:51 AM

Great post! Tying even more ends together! What a great day for Adnan!! Let justice prevail.

Posted by: Amara | Oct 13, 2015 3:21:31 PM

not only did she take more cases than she could handle, but they were in several varied locations, which, considering her illness and what seems to be her mental faculties disintegrating had to affect her ability to even adequately defend her clients. can this information be used for is IAC claim?

Posted by: sasha | Oct 13, 2015 4:13:47 PM

Since Seamus_duncan hasn't shown up yet, I'll make his post for him:

"But... but... but..."

Posted by: Dragga | Oct 13, 2015 4:36:13 PM

Isn't there an agency that regulates how many cases an attorney can manage at once? To oversee that appropriate hours are devoted to the case by the attorney regardless of how many clerks are on the case? It is obvious that CG did a shoddy job at managing Adnan's case. Shouldn't there be a regulatory agency?

Posted by: Jeanette | Oct 14, 2015 6:51:05 AM

Can anyone really question whether Adnan had adequate representation?

Posted by: BruceinPhilly | Oct 14, 2015 7:10:20 AM

Dragga...that is classic.

Posted by: Traci | Oct 14, 2015 7:11:52 AM

Adnan’s testimony is that he gave the Asia letters to Gutierrez “immediately,” so let’s assume that was on her first visit on April 16. He also testified that he followed up on Asia on her “next visit,” which was May 28, and she said she looked into it and nothing came of it. Thus, according to Adnan’s sworn testimony, Gutierrez had written Asia off long before the July/August clerk interviews. Why was Adnan rehashing the issue in July?

Posted by: Seamus_Duncan | Oct 14, 2015 9:57:24 AM

Penny: Absolutely.

Karen: I feel the same way.

Ruth: Yes. Adnan hired her right as she was starting to decline.

Amara: Thanks.

sasha: It is certainly decent circumstantial evidence.

jeanette: There is no such agency, but it’s an interesting idea.

Seamus: Adnan was testifying to events that happened more than a decade ago. It’s certainly easy to imagine Adnan showing Gutierrez the letters later than he thought or Gutierrez taking longer to get back to him than he thought. It’s also possible that Gutierrez had told Adnan that Asia didn’t check out as of July 13th and that Adnan still told the clerk about Asia on the 13th because that is what he believed happened. There are a lot of details that are unclear, but what is clear is that (1) Gutierrez knew about Asia; and (2) Asia says that she was never contacted by the defense.

Posted by: Colin | Oct 14, 2015 10:37:12 AM

So if the August 21 visit was re-hashing information from the July 13/14 visits, why isn't Asia or the library mentioned in the notes from the August 21 visit?

Posted by: Seamus_Duncan | Oct 14, 2015 11:03:11 AM

Seamus: Any number of possibilities. For instance, maybe, after describing his school day to the clerk, Adnan told her that he'd given Asia's letters to the other clerk, so she didn't take any notes on the subject. That's the problem with having two different clerks covering the same ground. If my theory is correct, Gutierrez never really looked at the 7/13 notes and only looked at the 8/21 notes. Of course, there's also the possibility that something else entirely happened.

Posted by: Colin | Oct 14, 2015 11:16:55 AM

Why would an expert witness from AT&T not know that incoming calls can't be used for location? Are they really an expert then?

Posted by: BruceinPhilly | Oct 14, 2015 12:38:56 PM

Seamus, let's assume you're right (God that was hard to write) and Adnan told Guttierez or her clerk all about Asia and the library on 16 April and 28 May and 7 July and 13 & 14 July and 21 August. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.

Posted by: FarFarAway | Oct 14, 2015 10:07:10 PM

I don't think Asia said she was never contacted by the defence. A quick look at the serial transcript and they quote that she wrote that no *attorney* had ever contacted her.

Being that specific about who hasn't contacted her makes me feel that she's trying to avoid saying who has contacted her e.g. a clerk, a PI etc.

Posted by: mpledger | Oct 27, 2015 4:42:52 PM

Colin, I'm not sure if you meant to leave one of these out intentionally, but I think the count is up to 8:
(1) Adnan Syed/Maryland
(2) Zachary Witman/Pennsylvania
(3) Hector Oscar Acosta-Martinez/Puerto Rico & Federal
(4) Levi Pace, Alabama
(5) Angel Bernacett Cosme/Puerto Rico
(6) David Vega Molina/Puerto Rico
(7) Marquis Matthews/Baltimore
(8) Joseph Glasco/Maine

Posted by: carnotbrown | Oct 28, 2015 8:11:09 AM

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