Amber Marie True and Michael Vincent Gutierrez each pled guilty Thursday to three felony counts in the December break-in and ransacking of a Sonoma emptied by tragedy.
John and Susan Maloney and their two children were killed in a traffic collision on November 28, 2009. Days later, True and Gutierrez broke into the home – leaving DNA evidence along the way – and stole the family car on the way out.
The defendants’ admission of residential burglary, auto theft and vandalism expose them to the maximum term in prison possible. No plea bargain was made and no promises were given as to any sentence they may receive, according to the district attorney’s office. Both defendants face the maximum term possible: 8 years, 8 months in prison for True, and 11 years, 8 months for Gutierrez.
Their earlier requests for plea bargains had been refused by the DA. Sentencing is set for September 1, 2010.
Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez stated: “We are satisfied that the defendants accepted responsibility for such an insidious crime and are gratified that the family did not have to go through the process of reliving this tragedy.”
The break-in of the Maloney home occurred in the early morning hours of December 1, 2009. Later that day, True was found by San Mateo police to have personal items belonging to the Sonoma family in her possession. When law enforcement descended on the couple’s nearby home, Gutierrez was seen driving the Maloneys’ stolen Nissan.
A search warrant of his home disclosed dozens of items that had been stolen from the Sonoma home earlier in the day. DNA evidence found at the Maloney’s residence linked both defendants to the crimes, the DA said.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Li is the prosecutor assigned to the case. Sonoma County Sheriff’s Detective Tony King is the lead detective.