Boy’s mother describes day of murder

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Housemates of Paul Gutierrez Jr.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Housemates of Paul Gutierrez Jr., who is accused of killing 18-month-old Makaio Lynn Radke, detailed what happened around the time of the boy’s death during the murder trial Tuesday. The testimony also painted a picture of a complex family environment surrounding Radke.

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Peggy Lynn Radke, Makaio’s mother, testified as the 15th witness for the prosecution.

According to the testimony, she lived with three children of her own and another household, consisting of Gutierrez, cohabitant Kristina Baker and their baby, in her residence at 505 Johnson St. in Albert Lea

On April 20 last year, Peggy left home around 1 p.m. with Baker to go to Austin where Baker worked starting at 3 p.m.

Before they left, a social worker from the county had visited their home around 11 a.m. to examine Makaio.

Peggy said that she did not tell the social worker about the house-sharing arrangement. She also said that Gutierrez kept himself in the bathroom during the visit.

Peggy Radke and Baker got back home around 1 a.m. the following day.

Gutierrez was dozing on a sofa in the living room, she said. She asked Gutierrez how the kids were during her absence, and he replied that they were all right. The door of children’s bedroom was closed, she said. Though she did not sleep that night at all, she said she did not go and check her children.

Peggy Radke testified that she heard Gutierrez shouting in a &uot;scared tone&uot; around 9:50 a.m. when he went into the kids’ bedroom and found Makaio was cold.

Baker testified about the behavior of Gutierrez after Peggy Radke left home for the hospital.

When Albert Lea Police Department officer Frank Cole visited the house around 10:35 a.m., after Peggy Radke took Makaio to Albert Lea Medical Center, Gutierrez ran away through a back door, she said.

Baker did not tell officer Cole about Gutierrez’s presence at the home, saying, &uot;I was trying to protect him.&uot;

Gutierrez showed up at his girlfriend’s house on Bridge Avenue, and asked her for a ride to another friend’s house on Hammer Road, according to the girlfriend’s testimony.

Baker said in the past she had seen Gutierrez hanging Makaio upside down by hooking his sleeper on a bed support. She had also observed Gutierrez tying up the baby with the sleeper, and bouncing him on the sofa.

Despite advice from Baker warning Peggy Radke about Gutierrez’s behavior, the mother said she did not suspect him of abusing Makaio. Instead, she attributed some bruises Makaio had to tumbling and hand-foot-mouth disease she believed the baby might have, and explained so to the social worker who visited on April 20.

Gutierrez and Baker moved into the home with the Radkes in January 2001, after Peggy Radke’s husband moved out. Peggy Radke admitted that she had a sexual relation with Gutierrez.

At that time, Peggy was attending a vocational program at the Minnesota Workforce Center. She started working full time at a factory in Austin March 5, and then got another job in Owatonna April 11.

Peggy said Gutierrez took care of her three children while she was working. Baker had maternity leave from her job between Feb. 15 and April 15, and helped Peggy’s children while taking care of her new baby.

Peggy’s oldest daughter was under joint custody with one of Radke’s former husbands. And the second husband had visitation rights for the other two children.

After the separation, social workers from the county had visited Peggy Radke three times to examine the status of Makaio based on information of possible abuse alleged by the second husband.

The trial was expected to continue with more testimony from Peggy Radke today.