A Houston, Texas woman has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for luring a man to a remote area to be attacked and killed by gang members who allegedly felt the victim disrespected them in a battle of rap.
Karla Jackelin Morales, 24, pleaded guilty Friday to charges related to the July 29, 2018 murder of Jose Alfonso Villanueva, 24, according to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. Morales was due to stand trial in October 2021, but she jumped tether and cut off her ankle monitor to evade detection and was arrested in Houston about nine months later.
“This defendant skipped bail in 2021 to escape the consequences of her actions, but was re-arrested and, on the eve of trial this week, pleaded guilty for what she did,” Ogg said in a statement. “This was a premeditated and planned attack and we have now been able to obtain justice for the victim’s family.”
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Morales lured Villanueva to a field in Spring, Texas, where she told him they would be smoking marijuana to celebrate his birthday. But Morales had taken him to the area so that five members of the MS-13 gang who were waiting for him could kill him. Gang members attacked Villanueva with a machete and shot him as he tried to flee.
Gang members were reportedly angry with Villanueva for disrespecting them in a rap battle. His body was found about a week after the murder.
“This woman knowingly lured an innocent man to be murdered by five members of the MS-13 gang in the most brutal and depraved way you could imagine, sending shockwaves and fear throughout the Houston community,” said Robert Kurtz, acting special agent for Homeland Security Investigations Houston. said in a statement. “Working together with our local law enforcement partners and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, we have been able to hold everyone responsible for this horrific tragedy accountable and hopefully bring an end to the victim’s family.”
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The gang members were all found guilty of Villanueva’s murder.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Sanchez, head of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime Division, pursued the case with Assistant District Attorney Neha Mehtaji.
“This should be a warning to anyone who thinks they want to join a gang that it doesn’t matter your age, gender or anything else,” Sanchez said in a statement. “We will prosecute you for the crimes you commit.”