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Paper Towel Choking Case Back in Appeals Court

Briefs filed for and against a new trial

By Jordan Smith, Fri., Feb. 24, 2012

Rosa Jimenez
Rosa Jimenez
Photo by Jana Birchum

Lawyers for Rosa Jimenez and Travis County prosecutors this week filed briefs arguing for and against trial court findings made in 2010 that urge the Court of Criminal Appeals to grant Jimenez a new trial. Jimenez was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison for the death of toddler Bryan Gutierrez; prosecutors say Jimenez shoved a wad of paper towels down the boy's throat while babysitting him in 2003, a choking that eventually caused his death. Jimenez's appeals attorney, Bryce Benjet, brought a host of medical experts to court during a December 2010 hearing to say that the choking was likely a tragic, toddler-instigated accident. Then-District Judge Charlie Baird agreed with the defense, opining that Jimenez should be granted a new trial. Instead of adopting the trial court's findings-of-fact, however, the CCA last year asked for additional briefs on the issues from both sets of lawyers. With that information now in hand, the court should be set to rule, but there is no timeline for it to do so. (For more on the case, see "A Parliament of Experts," Feb. 4, 2011.)

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