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Night out in L.A. turns deadly

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeHomicideDownstream Oil and Gas ActivitiesLos Angeles Police Department

It's a case that gives entirely new meaning to the phrase "vehicular homicide."

After a night of drinking at a Silver Lake club, police say, Carlos Gutierrez got so angry at his girlfriend and his uncle early Monday morning that he ordered them out of his car and into a pounding rainstorm. Then he threatened to run them over.

Los Angeles Police Department investigators say it's unlikely that either Gutierrez's girlfriend or his uncle thought the 25-year-old would actually run them down, but according to police, that's exactly what happened. As the pair began walking away from the car, Gutierrez allegedly gunned the engine of his Honda Prelude and plowed into them.

Yet it's what Gutierrez allegedly did next that has some veteran homicide investigators scratching their heads.

According to police, Gutierrez piled his mortally wounded girlfriend, Yolanda Martinez, 37, into the vehicle's back seat and propped up his uncle in the passenger seat. Then he drove to a gas station.

The pit stop proved to be the alleged killer's undoing. As Gutierrez reportedly struggled to operate a gas pump in Pacific Palisades, his uncle -- whose leg was shattered -- dragged himself out of the car and began screaming for help, authorities say. That's when people started calling 911.

Martinez was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities say. The uncle was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for a compound leg fracture.

On Tuesday, Gutierrez was being held without bail after being booked on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.

The incident was, even by Los Angeles standards, an odd one, officers said.

Odder still is the fact that investigators have yet to determine exactly where the slaying occurred.

The Silverlake Lounge, in Sunset Junction, where the night apparently began to sour, and the gas station near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue are 21 miles apart. Neither Gutierrez nor the uncle -- whom police have not identified -- seem to be able to remember where the crime occurred.

LAPD Lt. Ray Lombard called the case more a "where- dunnit" than a "whodunit."

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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