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Merrimack mother in baby drowning case sentenced for Salem theft

BRENTWOOD – A Merrimack mother, who was sentenced last week for the drowning death of her 8-month-old son, received another jail sentence on Monday for an arrest in Salem that happened while free on bail.

Melissa Gutierrez, 28, will serve a 12 month jail sentence on an attempted theft conviction, stemming from her arrest at a Lord & Taylor store in Salem last April 10.

Gutierrez was caught stealing about $302 worth of jeans from the Route 28 store by loss prevention workers, police said.

Police said Gutierrez had taken the pants into a fitting room and removed security sensors from them before stuffing them into a garbage bag and leaving the store. An officer searched Gutierrez’ purse and found two pill bottles that were not prescribed to her, one contained Alzprazolam, the other Clonazapam, police said.

At the time, Gutierrez was awaiting trial for the Aug. 25, 2011, death of her 8-month-old son, Christian Ntapalis. She allegedly left the boy unattended in a bathtub along with her 2-year-old son, who is now is state custody.

Gutierrez was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to negligent homicide in Hillsborough County Superior Court. The plea deal in that case allowed her to avoid going to trial for manslaughter.

She pleaded guilty in the Rockingham County case on April 18.

Gutierrez will be able to serve her sentence in the theft case concurrently with her prison term.

She asked a judge on Monday if the latest sentence meant she might go back to a county jail instead of state prison.

Judge Marguerite Wageling said that it will be up to corrections officials whether Gutierrez will be transferred at any point.

At least one county jail in the state has a contract to take in state prison inmates due to overcrowding, and jails sometime have programs an inmate needs to complete their sentences, according to Wageling.

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