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Former prosecuting attorney: 'No surprise' suspects got favorable court outcomes

KCK Tequila KC shooting suspects
Posted at 10:06 PM, Oct 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-09 23:54:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Days after the tragic mass shooting at Tequila KC, questions continue to be asked about how the two suspects were able to live as free men leading up to the crime.

Both Javier Alatorre and Hugo Villanueva-Morales — the two men charged with the murder of four men in a shooting that also injured five others early Sunday morning in Kansas City, Kansas — faced multiple charges and possible jail sentences long before allegedly being involved in last weekend's deadly violence.

According to court documents, Alatorre was arrested numerous times during the two years before Sunday’s shooting.

Almost every time, a judge ordered his bond to be reduced before releasing him from behind bars.

Alatorre's most recent release came in early September, around one month before the Tequila KC shooting and despite objections from the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office about Alatorre being a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Details also have emerged this week about a favorable outcome Villanueva-Morales received in court.

While serving time at the Lansing Correctional Facility, Villanueva-Morales pleaded guilty last year to trafficking contraband inside the prison.

Despite facing a potential 10-year sentence, a Leavenworth County judge only sentenced Villanueva-Morales to two years of probation.

While some have raised concerns about how the two men were able to avoid jail time, former Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Plumb told 41 Action News that jail overcrowding likely led to the those decisions from the bench.

“It’s not a surprise at all,” he said. “Given the limited number of cells in prisons and jails, somebody has to come out to put somebody else in.”

With some facilities in the Kansas City area experiencing overcrowding, Plumb said something has to give.

“Jails are full,” he said. “Where are the judges going to put people?”

In addition to overcrowding, Plumb said the lack of violent crime charges against the two men likely played a key role in the decisions to release them.

“Judges will tend to put in the violent offenders where there has been a victim physically injured,” he said. “Those are the people that get the top priority to go to prison. You’re more likely to give a break to somebody who hasn’t created a victim.”

Shortly after the Tequila KC shooting, police arrested Alatorre in Kansas City, Missouri. He was extradited to Wyandotte County, where he remains jailed on a $1 million bond on four counts of first-degree murder.

Villanueva-Morales remained at-large as of Wednesday night.