A 25-year-old woman went into a panic when Omaha police drove her to an Elkhorn River bridge so she could show them where, she says, her boyfriend threw his 4-year-old brother over the railing.
Gabriela Guevara — the alleged accomplice in the killings of an Omaha woman and her son — told police she thought they were going to throw her into the river. At that, Omaha Police Detective Wendy Dye assured her they just wanted to know where 4-year-old Josue went over the railing, to aid in their search.
That panic attack — and her purported vulnerability — were the subjects of a pretrial motion in Douglas County District Court on Thursday.
Guevara’s attorney, Mallory Hughes, essentially was setting up a potential Caril Ann Fugate defense: that, just as Charles Starkweather’s girlfriend alleged in his 1950s murder spree, Guevara had no control over what her boyfriend would do.
Roberto Martinez-Marinero, 25, is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges in the May 5 deaths of his mother and his brother. Martinez-Marinero reportedly has admitted to authorities that he killed his 45-year-old mother, Jesus Ismenia Marinero, left his half brother, Angel, in a La Vista dumpster and threw half brother Josue over the West Center Road bridge.
Guevara is awaiting trial on five counts of being an accessory to a felony — charges that, if proven, carry up to 45 years in prison. Thursday, prosecutors showed video from a neighbor’s surveillance camera that, they say, shows Guevara and Martinez-Marinero hauling Jesus’ body away from a South Omaha apartment.
The first step in Guevara’s defense: attempting to suppress her statements to police.
Hughes offered a creative twist on what is normally a routine motion challenging whether a defendant has knowingly waived her right to remain silent or to have an attorney.
Hughes suggested that Guevara was under duress because of abuse by Martinez-Marinero and because of a prior crime.
The net effect, according to Hughes: Guevara had no ability to waive her right to an attorney before the police interview.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and his chief deputy, Brenda Beadle, argue that the only question Judge Marlon Polk should consider at this point is whether Guevara was unduly influenced by police, not by her boyfriend. Kleine suggested that Guevara clearly was coherent, even crafty, throughout her police interviews. At one point, Kleine noted, Guevara asked police to restart the interview after police stopped it when she asked for an attorney.
“The officers’ conduct was exactly what we want,” Kleine said. “I don’t know what else the officers could have done.”
Prosecutors painted Guevara as an active participant in the cover-up. In addition to carrying Jesus to the car, the two later dumped the Omaha woman near Fourth and Cedar Streets in southeast Omaha. Prosecutors alleged that Guevara sent a text from Jesus’ phone to make it look like Jesus was still alive. She later threw out the phone.
The defense called on a psychologist to try to show that Guevara was vulnerable.
Kirk Newring said Guevara suffers from possible “battered-partner syndrome” at the hands of Martinez-Marinero and post-traumatic stress disorder from a previous crime. As a 13- or 14-year-old in Mexico, she says, she was the victim of a kidnapping by a boyfriend who wanted to force her into the sex trade, Newring said. Mexican police did nothing, the family said, so the family fled to the U.S., according to Newring.
Newring said that ordeal led to panic attacks, fear of confinement and distrust of police.
Newring noted that Guevara was left in a police interview room for six hours. (Police say she was given three bathroom breaks and was brought food and water during that time.)
“She was experiencing psychological coercion,” Newring said. “I don’t know that I can say there was an intentional psychological coercion.”
Judge Polk is expected to rule in a few weeks on whether her statements were coerced. No trial date has been set.
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