Man gets life term in beating death of WWII vet

YORK -- The man police say fatally beat an 81-year-old war veteran and left him in a pool of blood during a robbery will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A jury of seven women and five men on Thursday found Isaias Diaz Gutierrez, formerly of York County, guilty of murder in the 2003 death of Fort Mill's Clarence Cubley.

After more than two hours, the jury also found Gutierrez guilty of first-degree burglary, armed robbery and three counts of forgery, said Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson, who tried the case with Assistant Solicitor Lisa Collins.

Judge J. Derham Cole of Spartanburg handed down a life sentence on the murder charge. Gutierrez also received life for the first-degree burglary charge; 30 years for armed robbery, and a combined 15 years for the three counts of forgery, Thompson said. All will run concurrently with the lifetime murder sentence, Thompson said.

"He got what he deserved," Thompson said after the four-day trial. "He killed an 81-year-old World War II veteran by hitting him in the head with a cinder block. That was a heinous crime."

Attorney Derek Chiarenza will appeal Cole's decision within the 10-day period.

"My client pleaded not guilty," Chiarenza said after court. "The state didn't have any fingerprint, blood or DNA evidence that directly linked my client to the crimes."

Cubley managed the now-closed Lakeview Mobile Home Park on U.S. 21 in Fort Mill. Gutierrez and Dana Blackmon once lived at the park, and Gutierrez worked with Cubley as a handyman.

But things changed on Dec. 29, 2002, when police say Gutierrez, then 26, beat Cubley in his camper home at 1890 U.S. 21.

"He beat him more than once and left him," Thompson said. "You don't have to beat up an 81-year-old man to rob him."

Thompson said Gutierrez cut Cubley's telephone cord before he fled. Authorities found Cubley unconscious on Dec. 31, 2002.

"He laid on the floor for almost two days with severe head injuries," Thompson said about Cubley, who died on Jan. 5, 2003.

Blackmon, then 23, formerly of 1601 Twin Lakes Road in Rock Hill, admitted in 2003 that she helped carry a safe from Cubley's home and saw him on the floor after the robbery.

Blackmon later pleaded guilty to armed robbery and agreed to testify against Gutierrez, who managed to elude police for nearly four years. He was apprehended in Missouri in November 2006.

Just before sentencing on Thursday, Gutierrez said he was sorry for what Cubley's family endured, but Gutierrez did not admit guilt, Chiarenza and.

Thompson said the judge's sentence brought resolution for Cubley's family.

"I'm happy that his family can finally put this behind them," he said. "They waited a long time for justice."

Gutierrez will be transported to a state prison at a later date. He remained in custody Friday night at York County Detention Center in York.