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Jun 6, 2016 12:42 PM

Sentence reduced for Nashua woman charged in the bathtub drowning death of her son

NASHUA - A Merrimack woman charged in connection with the 2011 drowning death of her 8-month-old son has had the final year of her prison sentence suspended after she told the judge her recent spate of bad behavior has improved.

The Nashua Telegraph reported a Hillsborough County Superior Court judge agreed to the suspension of the final year of her five to 10-year prison term. Melissa Gutierrez, 31, pleaded guilty to negligently causing the 2011 drowning death of her son Christian Ntapalis who drown in Gutierrez' Merrimack home. At the time, she told police she went down stairs to grab a towel and ran back up stairs when she water coming through the downstairs ceiling.

The five- to 10-year term to which she was sentenced, the result of a plea agreement she reached with prosecutors, carried a provision that she could get one year taken off her minimum sentence if she successfully completed parenting, mental-health and life-skills programs in prison.

Gutierrez took, and promptly completed, those programs, Sculimbrene wrote in the motion. But she never received the one-year reduction, he added, due to a spate of "inappropriate behavior."

Although Gutierrez over the past year "has shown marked improvement in her behavior," her lawyer Anthony Sculimbrene said, she chose to hold off on filing the suspension motion because she "recognized that her behavior had been inappropriate."

That the plea agreement also credited Gutierrez for 226 days she'd already served in jail leaves her with little time left to serve before she is paroled.

Temple, who in his order noted Gutierrez's successful completion of the prison programs, also recommended that she enroll in, and complete, Concord Hospital's intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment program known as "Fresh Start" as part of her parole plan.

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