Man faces potential life in prison for attempted rape of unconscious woman

Stock Image| St. George / Cedar City News
Cedar City resident Leonel Morales, 28, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 31, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – A 5th District Court judge ordered a Cedar City man to a possible life sentence Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony for attempted rape.

Judge Keith Barnes sentenced Leonel Morales to three years to life in the Utah State Prison for attempting to sexually assault an unconscious woman last October.

The 28-year-old man was originally charged with rape, a first-degree felony, and forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. The rape charge was later amended as part of a plea arrangement to attempted rape but maintained its first-degree felony status. The second-degree felony was dismissed.

Morales was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and all crime-related expenses to the victim. In addition, Barnes ruled that the defendant have no future contact with the victim.

Speaking on behalf of his client, Morales’ attorney, Troy Sundquist, expressed his client’s regret for how the situation had risen “to this point.”

Morales is more concerned about his son now that he faces prison and hopes to focus on his family in the future, Sundquist told the court.

Morales only provided a brief comment to the judge.

“Man has a right to make good what he has done wrong,” Morales said.

Barnes said he hoped the victim could find closure from Tuesday’s proceedings.

According to the charging documents filed in 5th District Court that provided reason for the arrest, the victim told Cedar City Police she had been drinking with some friends when she went in a bedroom and fell asleep. She woke to find Morales allegedly raping her.

The victim pushed her attacker off by grabbing Morales “by the neck” and pinning him in the corner of the bedroom before the homeowner came in the room and intervened.

Morales later admitted to the sexual assault during a police interview Oct. 18, 2016, court documents state. He was arrested 13 days after the incident on Oct. 31. Morales has remained in custody on $50,000 bail.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • comments March 28, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    “pushed her attacker off by grabbing Morales “by the neck” and pinning him in the corner of the bedroom ”

    She sounds strong. She had him by the neck, was she strong enough to finish the job?

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