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Worthington man sentenced to prison in attempted murder case


WORTHINGTON — Despite victims’ wishes, a Worthington man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stabbing and injuring a man and engaging in criminal sexual conduct.

In a well attended court appearance Monday in Nobles County District Court, Jose A. Reyes-Morales, 19, was sentenced to 10 years for attempted murder and three years for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, terms which are to be served concurrently. He is to serve a mandatory minimum of two-thirds of that sentence, and may be eligible to serve the remaining one-third on supervised release.

Reyes-Morales was arrested Aug. 8 after stabbing a man with a gun-shaped pocket knife. The stabbing was a reaction to the victim allegedly shoving Reyes-Morales when he went to a juvenile female’s house after being broken up with via text message, Reyes-Morales told law enforcement following the arrest. The stabbing victim was transported to the Sanford Worthington Medical Center Emergency Room, where he was treated and later released.

Prior to being sentenced Monday, the stabbing and criminal sexual conduct victims addressed the court, both asking that Reyes-Morales not be sentenced to prison.

The stabbing victim, Miguel A. Rodriguez, 23, said Reyes-Morales had apologized to him and regretted what had happened.

“That’s all I needed,” Rodriguez said. “The time he is being sent away from his family — I wouldn’t want that for anyone. I don’t think prison will help him.”

The juvenile female victim said everything that happened between she and Reyes-Morales was consensual.

“The only crime committed was the age difference,” she said.

At the time of the offense, Reyes-Morales was 18 years old and the victim was 13, as identified Monday in court. Under Minnesota state law, someone between ages 13 and 16 cannot give sexual consent with someone more than than four years older than them.

While Reyes-Morales was still sentenced to prison, his sentence was reduced by 19 months from the statutory minimum — a decision agreed upon by the prosecutor and defense prior to hearing victim statements.

The departure, state prosecutor Matthew Loeffler said, was appropriate because Reyes-Morales took responsibility early, was cooperative and honest.

“The state believes the reason things escalated is because he found his girlfriend with another man — an older man — and was perhaps trying to protect her,” Loeffler said, adding that a lesser sentence will allow the young man to still have a life and be a productive member to society.

Fifth Judicial District Judge Christina Wietzema said she understood what both victims were asking, but that the prison sentence was not only agreed upon, but also serves as a punishment for crimes that Reyes-Morales committed.

“I hope when you’re back in this community your behavior will be drastically different,” she said.

Reyes-Morales was taken into custody immediately following Monday’s sentencing.