A Houston woman pleaded guilty Friday to murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for luring a 24-year-old man to a remote area where he was brutally attacked by gang members with a machete and then fatally shot, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.
“This defendant jumped bail in 2021 to escape the consequences of her actions, but she was re-arrested and, on the eve of trial this week, pleaded guilty for what she did,” Ogg said. “This was a premeditated and planned out attack and we have now been able to get justice for the victim’s family.”
Karla Jackelin Morales, 24, pleaded guilty and agreed to 30 years in prison right before a jury was selected in her trial for the murder of Jose Alfonso Villanueva on July 29, 2018.
Morales lured Villanueva to a field in Spring where five members of MS-13 were waiting to kill him. She told him they were going to smoke marijuana to celebrate his birthday.
Instead, the gang members, who have all been convicted in the crime now, slashed Villanueva with a machete and then shot him as he tried to run away. They were apparently mad at him because he had disrespected them in a rap battle. His body was found about a week later.
Morales was scheduled to go to trial in October 2021, but she jumped bond and cut off her ankle monitor to escape detection. She was arrested in Houston about nine months later.
“This women knowingly lured an innocent man to be murdered by five MS-13 gang members in the most brutal and depraved manner that you could imagine sending shockwaves and fear throughout the Houston community,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Kurtz, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston. “By working in conjunction with our local law enforcement partners and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, we were able to hold all of the individuals responsible for this horrifying tragedy accountable and hopefully bring some closure to the victim’s family.”
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Houston Police Department and the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston all worked to bring Morales to justice.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Sanchez, a chief in the DA’s Organized Crime Division, prosecuted the case with ADA Neha Mehtaji.
“This should be cautionary tale to anyone who thinks they may want to join a gang that it doesn’t matter your age, gender or anything else,” Sanchez said. “We will prosecute you for the crimes you commit.”
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