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Five-time Convicted Felon Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

8/1/2023 7:00:00 PM

mejia-booking.jpgA St. Joseph man who had only been out of prison for 100 days before holding an 18-year-old at knifepoint so he could steal his debit card has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. Christopher Mejia, 48, received the sentence on July 28 after a Platte County jury convicted him of felony stealing and armed criminal action in March.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, This defendant is the textbook definition of a career criminal. When he's not in prison, he will victimize innocent people. He is exactly the type of person we build prisons for. However, given Missouri's revolving door prison policy, I fear he will again be paroled early.

Jurors found Mejia guilty after a three-day trial. Given Mejia's five prior felonies, Zahnd's office used a provision of Missouri law to charge Mejia as a persistent felony offender, which increased the sentences he could receive.

At trial, prosecutors proved that in February 2021, Mejia held an 18-year-old victim at knifepoint and demanded his debit card and PIN number. Mejia threatened the victim, telling him, Do you know who I am? Do you know what I'm about? I don't play around.

After the victim gave Mejia his debit card, Mejia handed it to an accomplice, who then used it at an ATM to withdraw $380 from the victim's bank account.

That transaction was captured on the bank's ATM camera and was played during the trial. Mejia continued to hold the victim at knifepoint until the accomplice returned with the money.

At the time of the incident, Mejia was on parole from the Missouri Department of Corrections after being convicted of attempted first degree robbery.

As a result of Zahnd's decision to charge him as a persistent felony offender, Mejia faced up to 10 years in prison on the stealing charge and a maximum of 15 years in prison for the armed criminal action charge. Under Missouri law, those sentences must run consecutively to one another.

Zahnd's office sought the maximum possible sentence of 25 years for Mejia, but Judge Ann Hansbrough gave him an 18-year sentence.

Zahnd said, "We often talk about second chances, and I believe many people deserve a second chance. But we can't keep giving hardened criminals third, fourth, and even fifth chances. At some point, we have to say enough is enough. That's why my office sought the maximum possible sentence against Mr. Mejia, and I worry that even an 18-year sentence may enable him to hit the streets again where he can do further harm."

The case was investigated by the Kansas City Police Department. It was tried by First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Gibson and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kaitlynn Donnelly.

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