A Riley County judge on Tuesday sentenced a Texas woman who shot and killed her boyfriend in 2018 to three years of probation.
District Judge John Bosch sentenced Gregoria Baez, 22, of Stamford, Texas, to 36 months of probation after a jury convicted her of involuntary manslaughter in September. The conviction stemmed from the 2018 death of her then-boyfriend, Felix Florez, 21, of Manhattan. This was the lesser conviction option for Baez, who had been charged with second-degree murder. She also will have to be registered through the Kansas Offender Registration Act for 15 years.
On the evening of Sept. 22, 2018, Baez and Florez were alone at their residence at 1420 Vista Lane. Baez testified in court during the trial that she and Florez were joking around, and they pointed guns at each other. Baez said as she raised her gun, she accidentally disengaged the grip safety and shot Florez, who later died at the hospital.
The court on Tuesday had the option of imposing the presumptive prison sentence of 32 months, but a special ruling for the charge allowed the judge to order a non-prison sanction if he had enough convincing factors to do so.
Bosch said he considered the points Baez’s attorney, Cole Hawver, had laid out in a motion and in court Tuesday, which included that Baez did not pose a threat to the public as she had no criminal history or history of violence, her “capacity to grow and mature” as an individual given that Baez was 21 when she committed the crime and that she has shown remorse for the incident.
Hawver also said Baez has a support network to rely on, she had nothing to gain from Felix’s death, registering as a violent offender with years of probation is “punishment enough for Liz’s unintentional actions” and keeping Baez out of prison would help reduce overcrowding and save the state money from housing another prisoner.
In addition to probation, Bosch imposed about $620 worth of court, correctional supervision, KBI DNA database and application fees to Baez.
Baez will be able to serve out her probation in Texas, where she moved back to after the incident.
Before the judge issued the sentence, Baez had the opportunity to address the court in asking for a lesser sentence.
“I am sorry, regardless if (Felix’s family) takes it or not,” Baez said through tears. “I loved Felix with everything that I had. I still love Felix. Others may not think so, but I have to live with this for the rest of my life.”
Friends and family of Baez also told stories of what kind of person they believe Baez to be, pleading for probation, while members of the Florez family demanded Baez be held accountable for her actions.
“She’s always been there for me when I needed her, and she’d never hurt anyone,” Miranda Baez said of her sister. “I just pray that you see the person that she is, and I pray that you see in her heart that she wouldn’t do anything ever again.”
Jennifer Florez, Felix’s mother, said seeing Baez receive a prison sentence would bring some sense of comfort to the family if they knew she was being held accountable.
“There’s no normal anymore and every day is a struggle to get through,” Jennifer said. “I find myself reliving that night over and over in my head. … If Miss Baez is sentenced to prison, her family will still be allowed to receive phone calls and letters from her and even visit her. We will never get the opportunity to see our son again. … No parent should have to bury their child.”