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The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for a Texas man 20 minutes before he was to receive a lethal injection Tuesday evening. The inmate has long maintained DNA testing would help prove he wasn’t responsible for the fatal stabbing of an 85-year-old woman during a home robbery decades ago.

The nation’s high court issued the indefinite stay shortly before inmate Ruben Gutierrez was to have been taken to the death chamber of a Huntsville prison.

Gutierrez was condemned for the 1998 killing of Escolastica Harrison at her home in Brownsville in Texas’ southern tip. Prosecutors said the killing of the mobile home park manager and retired teacher was part of an attempt to steal more than $600,000 she had hidden in her home because of her mistrust of banks.

Gutierrez has sought DNA testing that he claims would help prove he had no role in her death. His attorneys have said there’s no physical or forensic evidence connecting him to the killing. Two others also were charged in the case.

The high court’s brief order, released about 5:40 p.m. CDT, said its stay of execution would remain in effect until the justices decide whether they should review his appeal request. If the court denies the request, the execution reprieve would automatically be lifted.

Gutierrez, who had been set to die after 6 p.m. CDT, was in a holding cell near the death chamber when prison warden Kelly Strong advised him of the court’s intervention.

“He was visibly emotional,” prison spokeswoman Amanda Hernandez said, adding he was not expecting the court stay. “We asked him if he wanted to make a statement but he needed a minute.”

“He turned around to the back of the cell, covered his mouth. He was tearing up, speechless. He was shocked.”

She said Gutierrez then prayed with a prison chaplain and added: “God is great!”

Gutierrez has had several previous execution dates in recent years that have been delayed, including over issues related to having a spiritual adviser in the death chamber. In June 2020, Gutierrez was about an hour away from execution when he got a stay from the Supreme Court.

In the most recent appeal, Gutierrez’s attorneys had asked the Supreme Court to intervene, arguing Texas has denied his right under state law to post-conviction DNA testing that would show he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.



A former Boston lawyer and prosecutor who was once named one of People magazine’s most eligible bachelors was sentenced Monday to between five and 10 years in state prison for rape.

Gary Zerola, 52, was found guilty last month after a jury deliberated for five hours and has been incarcerated since then. He was acquitted of a greater charge of aggravated rape and burglary.

Prosecutors said that Zerola, in January 2021, paid more than $2,000 for a night of drinking with a woman he was dating and her 21-year-old friend who’d just graduated from college. The friend became intoxicated and had to be helped back to her Beacon Hill apartment. Zerola later entered the apartment without permission and sexually assaulted the woman around 2 a.m. while she was sleeping, prosecutors said.

In a victim impact statement that was read in court, the woman said she’d tried desperately to not allow the incident to affect her, or to give Zerola any power over the rest of her life. But she said that participating in the trial had brought up “the significant and insidious effect this event has had on my life.”

“For months after the incident, I experienced nightly recurring nightmares reliving the assault. Even today, I still have nightmares of someone breaking into my apartment and trying to assault me,” the woman wrote. The Associated Press does not generally name victims of sexual assault.

“These cases are always difficult, and this victim deserves enormous credit for taking the stand and telling the jury what happened to her that night,” Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement after the verdict.

Zerola’s attorney Joseph Krowski Jr. said Monday that his client is appealing the conviction. He said the sentence wasn’t what they wanted, but was within or close to the recommended guideline range for somebody without a previous criminal record. He pointed out that Zerola had been acquitted on two of the three original charges.

Krowski Jr. said his client was doing “as well as could be expected under the circumstances” and was going to put his time to good use and come out of the experience for the better.

Zerola had previously been accused of other sexual assaults but wasn’t convicted in those cases. He had faced two rape charges in Suffolk County and was acquitted in 2023, according to the district’s attorney’s office. He also was charged in three sexual assault cases between 2006 and 2007, but was not convicted.

Zerola worked as an assistant district attorney in Essex County for one year, and in Suffolk County for two months in 2000, according to former District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office. He was arrested in January 2021.



Sixteen jurors were seated Tuesday for Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico, where opening statements are set to start Wednesday.

Five men and 11 women were chosen by Santa Fe County special prosecutors and the actor’s team of defense attorneys. Twelve will be designated as the jury and four as alternates by the court only after they hear the case.

They’ll be tasked with deciding whether Baldwin committed the felony when, during a rehearsal in October 2021, a revolver went off while he was pointing it at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. They were on the set of the Western film “Rust,” at Bonanza Creek Ranch some 18 miles (29 kilometers) from where the trial is being held.

Media members were not allowed in the courtroom when attorneys used their challenges to strike jurors. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer swore in the jury, told them to avoid news about the case and to report Wednesday morning.

Baldwin, 66, could get up to 18 months in prison if the jurors unanimously find him guilty.

The selection got off to a slow start Tuesday with a delay of over two hours due to technical problems, but the panel was selected in a single day as expected.

When Marlowe Sommer asked the pool of 70 possible jurors if they were familiar with the case, all but two raised their hands to indicate they were.

Two others indicated they would not be able to be fair and impartial and were excused.

Baldwin, the star of “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and a major Hollywood figure for 35 years, sat in the courtroom with a team of four of his lawyers, dressed in a gray suit, dark tie, white shirt with glasses and neatly combed hair.

His wife, Hilaria Baldwin, and his brother, “The Usual Suspects” actor Stephen Baldwin, were seated in the back of the courtroom.

Under questioning from prosecutor Kari Morrissey, a potential juror said she hates firearms, but many others acknowledged owning them and few people expressed strong opinions about guns.

Baldwin’s lawyer Alex Spiro in his questioning highlighted the gravity of the situation — “obviously someone lost their life” — and asked jurors to come forward with any reservations about their own ability to be fair and impartial.



A federal appeals court in New Orleans is taking another look at its own order requiring a Texas county to keep eight books on public library shelves that deal with subjects including sex, gender identity and racism.

Llano County officials had removed 17 books from its shelves amid complaints about the subject matter. Seven library patrons claimed the books were illegally removed in a lawsuit against county officials. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled last year that the books must be returned. Attorneys for Llano County say the books were returned while they appeal Pittman’s order.

While the library patrons say removing the books constitutes an illegal government squelching of viewpoints, county officials have argued that they have broad authority to decide which books belong on library shelves and that those decisions are a form of constitutionally protected government speech.

On June 6, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals split three ways on the case, resulting in an order that eight of the books had to be kept on the shelves, while nine others could be kept off.

That order was vacated Wednesday evening after a majority of the 17-member court granted Llano County officials a new hearing before the full court. The order did not state reasons and the hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

In his 2023 ruling, Pitman, nominated to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama, ruled that the library plaintiffs had shown Llano officials were “driven by their antipathy to the ideas in the banned books.” The works ranged from children’s books to award-winning nonfiction, including “They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group,” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti; and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health,” by Robie Harris.

Pitman was largely upheld by the 5th Circuit panel that ruled June 6. The main opinion was by Judge Jacques Wiener, nominated to the court by former President George H. W. Bush. Wiener said the books were clearly removed at the behest of county officials who disagreed with the books’ messages.



Joseph Maya and the attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. practice a range of areas of the law including education and special education law,

Parental awareness of a child’s special needs is the best way for the child to exceed expectations and achieve maximum potential. Special education laws and regulations are designed to protect and provide for students with disabilities and ensure that they receive the proper services and necessary assistance for a meaningful educational experience.

Special education Law

-Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
-Auditory or Visual Impairment
-Autism Spectrum Disorder
-Dyslexia
-Physical Disabilities
-Speech or Language Impairment

Knowledge of your child’s special education rights will help ensure that their unique needs are met. It is critical to be knowledgeable about laws, regulations, and school procedures impacting your child’s access to the general curriculum prescribed by the school district. The following will provide you with an overview of specific federal laws, such as the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Connecticut and New York state laws pertaining to special education.

Such legislation protects students with disabilities and ensures that they receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Being an active voice on the Planning & Placement Team (PPT)/Individualized Education Program Team (IEP Team) and providing valuable input to formulate your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) will impact your child’s future success. This guide will provide you with the essential knowledge and tools to optimize your child’s educational opportunities. Each child is different and you may want to consult with 14 attorneys to ensure that your child’s educational requirements are properly assessed and fully met.

Our firm proudly serves clients with special education assistance in private and public schools all over Fairfield County. Please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced attorneys at (203) 221-3100 or by email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com if you are in need of a special education advocate.






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