Ex-roommate who ambushed and shot Stanislaus dairy worker is convicted of murder

A Bay Area man has been convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his former Modesto roommate on New Year’s Day 2021, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office reported Saturday. The jury also found that Eric Mills was “lying in wait,” a special circumstance, when he shot Teodoro “Teo” Gutierrez, 52.

East Palo Also resident Mills, now 41, had been roommates with the victim. According to previous Bee reporting, Gutierrez’s girlfriend told detectives Mills was kicked out six months earlier due to his drug use. She said Mills threatened to kill Gutierrez but they never made a police report, according to the arrest affidavit.

Mills knew where Gutierrez, a dairy employee, worked, when his shifts ended and the route he took to get home.

Gutierrez had left work at the end of his graveyard shift around 8:12 a.m. During a period of dense morning fog, Mills waited at the intersection of Monte Vista Avenue and Carpenter Road and shot Gutierrez in the head when the victim arrived. The crime scene was about a half mile from the dairy.

The victim was found dead inside his vehicle in a field northeast of the intersection at about 10:17 a.m. Shattered glass and shell casings from two different caliber bullets were found at the intersection.

In addition to murder, Mills was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, District Attorney Jeff Laugero announced. “Mills is alleged to have two or more serious felony convictions that make him eligible for sentencing under the California 3-strikes law,” reads a post on the Facebook page of the DA’s Office

Due back in court Nov. 17, Mills faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.