Mother accused of 'child torture' takes plea deal, could possibly avoid prison sentence

FARMINGTON — A mother accused of severely abusing a child who had injuries a doctor described as "torture" has taken a plea deal which could possibly lead to no time in a state prison.

Marissa Gutierrez, 23, pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of child abuse on Nov. 23 by taking a plea agreement, according to court documents.

Gutierrez was charged on June 4, 2019, for allegedly abusing her four-year-old boy during a five-month period during which the child suffered multiple injuries, including being locked in closets and starved, along with sustaining injuries that included a brain bleed, spinal fractures and a broken arm, according to The Daily Times archives.

An Albuquerque doctor who examined the child wrote in a report that the child had so many injuries that it was overwhelming.

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"The involvement of multiple physically injured body systems, the chronic and repetitive nature of injury, emotional abuse and multiple forms of neglect constitute child torture," the doctor reported, according to the affidavit.

Mark Curnutt, Gutierrez’s attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.

Gutierrez was one of three defendants charged in connection of the case.

Jivona Sandoval, 23, and Ema Ferran-Sandoval, 57, are also charged in connection to the child abuse case. Jivona is listed as Gutierrez’s girlfriend and Ferran-Sandoval as Jivona’s mother, according to court documents.

Sandoval is accused of a first-degree felony count of child abuse and Ferran-Sandoval is accused of a third-degree felony count of child abuse, according to court documents.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said in a statement the DA needs Gutierrez’s testimony to prosecute Jivona. He added Jivona was the more "culpable" defendant in the case.

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Terms of the plea agreement

The Nov. 23 plea agreement not only reduced the seriousness of the child abuse charge from a first-degree felony to a third-degree felony, but it also led to the dismissal of an aggravated battery case from August 2020.

A woman accused Gutierrez of punching and kicking her, leaving her with a concussion in the dismissed case, according to court documents.

There was no agreement about sentencing between the prosecution and defense for the child abuse conviction.

The DA’s office did state it was not opposed to a suspended sentence with supervised probation for Gutierrez, according to court documents.

If granted a suspended sentence, Gutierrez would not be sent to a state prison but released with the expectation she could serve prison time if she violated her probation.

Gutierrez is also required to testify against her co-defendants during future jury trials.

Jivona is set for a two-day jury trial to start on Dec. 7 in Aztec District Court. Ferran-Sandoval did not have a trial scheduled on the morning of Nov. 27.

Gutierrez’s sentencing hearing is set for the afternoon of Feb. 7 in Aztec District Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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This article originally appeared on Farmington Daily Times: Woman accused of 'child torture' takes plea deal, could avoid prison