Thursday, January 31, 2008

New details in Palisades "where-dunnit" murder

The story began to unfold Monday, when we reported exclusively on a truly shocking tale of a corpse at the pumps of the Mobil station on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Pacific Palisades, California. And now, Sue Pascoe, the talented, tireless and prolific chronicler of Palisades life for the weekly Palisadian-Post newspaper, adds some colorful new details to what has turned out to be one of the strangest sagas in the history of Los Angeles crime (and that says a lot).

As we learned yesterday, the body of Yolanda Martinez, 37, was allegedly driven to the Mobil station by her 25-year-old boyfriend, Carlos Gutierrez, after Guiterrez ran over the woman and his uncle with his Honda Prelude-- sometime after the group left The Silverlake Lounge, described as a “Latino drag queen hangout Friday through Monday,” in Silverlake in the driving rain early Monday. Then, police say, Gutierrez stuffed Yolanda's lifeless body into the back seat, his broken-legged uncle in the passenger seat, and was caught at the pumps 21 miles from where the journey began.

Due apparently to the consumption of alcohol, neither the suspect nor surviving victim could remember where the car attack took place, leading one LAPD lieutenant to call the case more a "where-dunnit" than a "whodunnit."

In Sue's Post article that's out today, the story becomes cinematic:

"It was rainy and windy early Monday morning when Pacific Palisades Mobil Station attendant Kazi Uddin took $10 for gas from Carlos Gutierrez, who was driving a red Honda Prelude. Then the night got stormier. Uddin was unaware that a second man had crawled out of the Prelude and was screaming for help. Other customers at the station dialed 911, around 2 a.m., and within minutes police were on the scene.

"'They closed the station down,' Uddin told the Palisadian-Post. 'They told me to stay inside.' It was only later that he discovered that Yolanda Martinez, 37, had been found dead in Gutierrez's car.

'How she died and how it happened, it's very shocking,' Uddin said…

"According to (Senior Lead Officer Michael) Moore, Gutierrez was taken back along the route, which was mostly along Sunset Boulevard, but couldn't remember where it had happened. 'It could have been Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, there's no way to tell where it happened,' Moore said..."

Another interesting sidebar comes from one of our readers, who suggests:

“Let's find out why the guy decided to opt for the Santa Monica Mountains gateway and the Topanga State Park locations over Griffith Park? (Note: The Mobil station is blocks away from the Temescal Gateway Park entrance to the Santa Monica Mountains.) I'm just saying that it used to be Griffith Park was the #1 body dump site, but it could be that those are serial killers rather than fits of alcohol induced rage.
 He'd have made it easy to GP without the need to gas up. Maybe he was familiar with the Palisades route from working there?”

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