140-YEAR SENTENCE FOLLOWING GUILTY VERDICT
Jaciel Mendez-Morales, 23, was found guilty by a Lafayette County jury of two counts of R**e in the First Degree, two counts of So**my in the First Degree and two counts of Kidnapping in the First Degree following a three-day jury trial litigated by Lafayette County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Ellis Hilbrenner. On December 19, 2022, following the recommendation of the jury, the defendant was sentenced to life in prison on each count of R**e in the First Degree, thirty years on each of the So**my charges, and ten years on each of the Kidnapping charges. All of those sentences will run consecutively for a total of 140 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Because they are considered “dangerous felonies”, the defendant will have to serve 85% of each sentence before he will be eligible for parole.
Charges were filed against Mendez-Morales and two other individuals after officers from the Higginsville Police Department and Homeland Security were dispatched to the Super 8 Motel at the junction of Interstate 70 and 13 Hwy. When agents and officers made entry into a room at the motel, they located two partially n**e females as well as three males. After further investigation, it was determined the girls were being transported from Arizona, where they had entered the country, to their families in New Jersey. When the group got to Lafayette County, the driver decided to stop at the Super 8 so he, Mendez-Morales and the third male could drink. At some point that night, the driver determined he was not being paid enough for the trip and he and Mendez-Morales contacted the girls’ families to demand more money. When the families indicated they didn’t have the thousands of dollars the defendant was demanding, Mendez-Morales and the driver hit and kicked the girls and threatened to kill them or sell them as prostitutes. After numerous phone calls were made, Mendez-Morales and the other two men r***d and sodomized both girls. The girls were both 20 years old at the time of the offenses.
Following the trial and sentencing, Prosecutor Hilbrenner stated, “This is the kind of case I never expected to have to prosecute, and I hope to never have another one like it again. These young women endured incredibly horrific crimes, which physically and emotionally traumatized them and changed their lives forever. Additionally, the driver, Alain Camarillo-Linan, and Mendez-Morales both re-traumatized the girls by putting them through two separate jury trials. Even after all of that, the girls expressed extreme gratitude for the Higginsville Police Department and Lafayette County for the work they did on their behalf. I am also grateful for and proud of the hard work done on behalf of these victims, by law enforcement and by the jury. Once again, Lafayette County has shown that criminal behavior will not be tolerated here.”