Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree today filed capital murder charges against three persons.
Two of the three, Javier Alatorre and Hugo Villanueva-Morales, were charged with capital murder in connection with the Tequila KC bar shootings at 1013 Central Ave. on Oct. 6, in which four persons died and others were injured.
A third person, Ismael Caballero, was charged with capital murder in connection with the deaths of three persons at 29 N. Mill St. on Dec. 29.
Dupree said at a news conference that Alatorre has been in custody since Oct. 9, and Villanueva-Morales has been in custody since Dec. 16.
The amended charges against Allatore and Villanueva-Morales in the Tequila KC case include one count of capital murder for the killings of more than one person, he said. The two also are charged with one count of attempted murder, six counts of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, he said.
Previously, the two were charged with four counts of first-degree murder, and now they each face one count of capital murder.
Caballero has been in custody since Dec. 30 for a homicide and arson.
The amended charges for Caballero were filed today and include one count of capital murder for the killings of more than one person, he said. The capital murder charge includes two victims who were juveniles, while the charge against Caballero concerning a third victim, Yazmin Rodriguez-Santilla, is second-degree murder.
There is also a charge of arson against Caballero in connection with the burning of a residence, he said.
Previously, Caballero faced three charges of first-degree murder, and he now faces one count of capital murder, and one count of second-degree murder, in addition to the arson charge.
Dupree said Kansas law states that one capital murder charge is allowed in cases where there was more than one murder victim.
Dupree commended the persons who worked on the cases, including the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department officers and detectives, the Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department, the KBI, the FBI, others and community members who spoke out and assisted in the case, he said.
“The cooperation among these agencies was tremendous help in locating and arresting all three of these defendants,” Dupree said.
One of the defendants, Villanueva-Morales, was located in Mexico, officials said previously.
Dupree said his office has seven days from the filing of these charges to announce his decision about whether to seek the death penalty.
“That is something I do not take lightly, and that I will speak to all of the family members more about,” he said.
If a person is convicted of capital murder and receives the death penalty, it could mean either death or life in prison without parole for the inmate, he said.
“We will not tolerate this type of violence in our community, and this type of violence will be met with the full force of the law,” Dupree said.
Dupree said the decisions to file capital murder charges were based on the facts.
“After the investigation had come to a certain point, the facts in both of these cases met the criteria for what our law has on the books, and I believe that those facts devastated our community, and the family members and the victims in this case, and whatever our law allows to help mend the pain, is what I think we should do,” he said.
While it’s possible that no court ruling can make the victims and their families feel whole again, Dupree said his office will fight for justice for every victim.
“They will know they have an advocate in this office that’s treating these cases personally,” he said.
It’s important the community knows that as they fight to make it known that violence is not OK in the community, law enforcement will do their part to make sure they won’t tolerate it either, he said.