Her voice barely above a whisper because of a damaged vocal cord and a long scar stretched across her neck, Jaide Lackner-Kulyas confronted the man who slashed her neck last year, nearly killing her and her unborn child.
“I will have a life of scars,” Lackner-Kulyas, 24, said in court Thursday.
Standing on the other side of the room awaiting sentencing was Lackner-Kulyas’ ex-boyfriend and the father of her child, Steven M. Gutierrez, 31, of St. Paul.
Jurors convicted Gutierrez in March of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree attempted murder and fifth-degree assault for the July 31 attack at the couple’s home.
Ramsey County District Judge Leonardo Castro sentenced Gutierrez to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowed for first-degree attempted murder.
“You, in essence, have branded her for life,” Castro told Gutierrez. “There is evidence the victim was treated with particular cruelty.”
Jurors found aggravating factors in the case: Gutierrez weighed at least 100 pounds more than Lackner-Kulyas, she was 12 weeks pregnant at the time and she suffered permanent injury and disfigurement.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Karen Kugler argued for the 20-year sentence, noting that in a pre-sentence investigation, Gutierrez blamed Lackner-Kulyas for causing the attack and said that she accidentally cut herself on a sharp blade he kept on his key chain.
“It is so outrageous and absurd,” Kugler said, adding that Lackner-Kulyas’ survival was a “medical miracle.”
Authorities said that Gutierrez slashed Lackner-Kulyas after the two argued, partly about him taking away her phone several days earlier.
Lackner-Kulyas told the court that the attack left her with a paralyzed vocal chord, nerve damage, limited movement in her right arm and recurring pain.
After the sentencing, Lackner-Kulyas said she fought for her life and her unborn child’s life. Her son will turn three months old in May.