Local News

Sexual predator convicted of trying to lure child into vehicle

SEBRING - A Circuit Court jury on Wednesday convicted a sexual predator of attempting to lure or entice a child into his car in Avon Park last year, and violation of probation, Assistant State Attorney Steve Houchin said.
Houchin, who is in charge of prosecutions in Highlands and Hardee counties, said the jury convicted Louis Juarz Gutierrez, 43, despite not being able to hear evidence of Gutierrez’s past record.
Gutierrez was designated as a sexual predator after being convicted in Miami of lewd/lascivious conduct on Nov. 18, 1990, and Dec. 18, 1990, and on March 9, 2001, with sexual battery.
He was arrested in Highlands County on July 9, 2011, after a boy told an Avon Park police officer he was waiting behind the Avon Park Save-A- Lot store for his sister when a man in a gold car drove up to him and told him to get in the car.
The boy said he told the man to “get away from me,” a warrant affidavit said.
The man left, the boy told authorities.
But while talking to the deputy, the boy spotted the car a couple of blocks away and identified it as the one. That led to Gutierrez’s arrest, the report said.
Gutierrez told authorities he approached the boy because he though he was hungry, the report said.
As a result of his conviction Gutierrez faces up to five years in prison on the charge of enticing a child and more years on violation of probation counts, Houchin said.
He said Courtney Lenhart, an assistant state attorney, did a good job in prosecuting Gutierrez.


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