Attorney whose pants caught fire during arson trial gets arrested


arson

The Miami attorney who drew global ill fame after his trousers lit on fire during an arson trial has been detained on a cocaine charge.

32-year-old Stephen Gutierrez, whose law license is presently rescinded, was pulled over Tuesday night and jailed on a felony cocaine charge. He was pulled over for operating a vehicle without a working headlight, according to a Miami-Dade police report. A cop spotted a swelling in his pocket and presumed it was a knife; it turned out however to be white powder inside of a metal cylinder. According to the arrest report “Gutierrez spontaneously blurted out ‘That’s cocaine.’ ”

Gutierrez was imprisoned briefly Wednesday morning, before making bail. In March 2017, the lawyer was representing a Miami man suspected of torching his own vehicle for insurance money. Gutierrez was contending to jurors that the inferno might have been triggered by spontaneous combustion when smoke and flames began surging from his pants. The attorney went sprinting out of the courtroom, as bemused spectators and jurors watched.

He faulted a defective battery in his e-cigarette for sparking in his pocket at a coinciding time. Following an investigation, prosecutors in Miami-Dade said “it seems obvious” the blaze was “a stunt or demonstration … meant to illustrate the feasibility of his spontaneous combustion theory of defense.” Gutierrez pleaded guilty to violations of the Florida Bar, notably filing a fraudulent insurance claim associated with the arson case.

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Aaron Granger

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