Judge Gave KCK Shooting Suspect Probation Instead of 9 Yrs in Prison

Hugo Villanueva-Morales, 29, (at left), and Javier Alatorre, 23, (Courtesy of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department)
Hugo Villanueva-Morales, 29, (at left), and Javier Alatorre, 23, (Courtesy of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department)

October 9, 2019 – In Breaking News – The Kansas City Star

More than a year before Hugo Villanueva-Morales allegedly walked into a packed Kansas City, Kansas, bar and began shooting, a Leavenworth judge had given him probation instead of nine years in prison.

In doing so the judge, who made news earlier this year for another controversial sentencing decision, departed from state sentencing guidelines over the objections of prosecutors.

Villanueva-Morales is currently at large, sought by police on four charges of murder in connection with the mass shooting Sunday at the Tequila KC bar near 10th Street and Central Avenue.

The shooting left four dead — Everardo Meza, 29, Alfredo Calderon Jr., 29, Francisco Garcia Anaya, 34, and Martin Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 58 — and five other people injured.

(Both Javier Alatorre and Hugo Villanueva-Morales faced multiple charges and jail time before allegedly being involved in the tragic Tequila KC shooting over the weekend. Courtesy of 41 Action News and YouTube. Posted on Oct 9, 2019.)

Police on Tuesday searched two homes looking for Villanueva-Morales but did not find him.

A second suspect, Javier Alatorre, 23, was arrested early Monday morning and is in custody facing the same four murder counts in Wyandotte County, with bond set at $1 million.

Both men were facing charges in other cases and were free on bond at the time of the shooting.


More than a year ago, in August 2018, Villanueva-Morales pleaded guilty to trafficking contraband in the Lansing Correctional Facility, where he was serving time for a 2011 aggravated robbery in Wyandotte County.

Trafficking contraband in prison is a charge that can carry more than nine years in prison.

Leavenworth Judge Michael Gibbens instead sentenced him to two years of probation because he “accepted responsibility” according to court documents.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson
Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson

Prosecutors opposed the decision.

“We did argue for prison,” said County Attorney Todd Thompson.

“But there’s no way anyone could foresee this horrific tragedy from a possession of synthetic marijuana case in prison.”

Gibbens did not respond to The Star’s request for comment.

Gibbens is the same judge who made national news earlier this year when he reduced the sentence of a convicted sex offender because he said the 13 and 14-year-old girls who were victims in the abuse were actually “aggressors.”

Continue reading… Judge gave KCK mass shooting suspect probation last year instead of 9 years in prison

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