Eric Mills, 41, of East Palo Alto, California shot and killed Teodoro “Teo” Gutierrez, 52, months after the men had a dispute over Mills’ alleged history of drug use.
Once roommates, according to the Modesto Bee, Gutierrez kicked Mills out of the apartment they shared. Prosecutors said an aggrieved Mills targeted Gutierrez after their falling out and then carefully stalked him one morning as he left work following a graveyard shift at a local dairy.
It was just after 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day when Gutierrez approached an intersection roughly a half-mile from his job at an area dairy. Prosecutors said Mills was lying in wait at the intersection, cloaked in the dense morning fog.
At the time, California Highway Patrol reported that Gutierrez appeared to have been shot in the head by someone standing outside of the vehicle. Patrolmen said when they found his body, Gutierrez was still inside of his car. The vehicle was not at the intersection but parked in a field nearby just north of it.
Mills was not arrested for the shooting until July 2021 though it was reported by local Fox affiliate KTXL that a warrant was issued for his arrest in April after police suspected he was involved in the shooting. Mills was then arrested in June on unrelated charges and once that matter was resolved, police then booked Mills on the murder charges.
Mills was also found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Stanislaus County District Attorney Jeff Laugero did not immediately return a request for comment to Law&Crime on Monday.
Following the jury’s verdict, Mills is now facing life without the possibility of parole. He appears in court next on Nov. 17 for sentencing.
The Modesto Bee reported that Gutierrez’s girlfriend said Mills had threatened to kill her partner once before. They thought about making a police report, she said, but ultimately never filed one.
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