Updated August 13, 2021 - 8:21 pm
The father of a man wanted in connection with the slaying of a 22-year-old Las Vegas woman was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for helping hide her body.
Jose Rangel, 46, pleaded guilty in June to destroying evidence and accessory to commit murder, both gross misdemeanors.
Sitting with about two dozen people in a courtroom gallery, her younger sister, Nayelli Palacio, expressed frustration with the punishment for Jose Rangel’s charges.
“It hurts that someone can do this to my sister and only get two years,” she said. “If you knew Lesly, you would know she didn’t deserve this. She didn’t deserve to have her life taken from her.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney John Giordani said the Rangels had known Palacio for 14 years, and the father was inside the home when she was killed.
Giordani called on lawmakers to enhance the possible punishment for such crimes.
“The Nevada Legislature needs to do something about this, because dumping a young girls body and treating her like a piece of trash should not be treated as a misdemeanor,” Giordani said. “And assisting a murderer after he commits such an egregious crime should not be treated as a misdemeanor.”
Rangel admitted to helping his son, Erick Rangel-Ibarra, 25, drag Palacio’s body out of their Las Vegas home and flee to Mexico, according to court records.
‘I’m very regretful’
Rangel apologized to Palacio’s family and asked for forgiveness.
“I’m very regretful,” he said. “I am very, very sorry. May she rest in peace. I understand their pain, and it hurts me, it hurts my heart, understanding that I failed as a father, that two beautiful families were destroyed. I recognize my mistake. I feel very ashamed that this incident took place, and that I as a father acted the way I did and did not go straight to the authorities when this happened. My love as a father won me over. I was so on the edge I didn’t know what to do. That betrayed me. I did not make the right decision.”
His son remains a fugitive.
Prosecutors have said surveillance video showed the two men placing Palacio’s body into a pickup truck on Aug. 29, before Rangel-Ibarra drove off.
The judge also addressed Palacio’s family, and Jose Rangel directly, saying he deserved “nothing less” than the maximum punishment.
“I know from where the family is sitting, suffering a loss that you’ve suffered, two years doesn’t seem like a sufficient punishment for losing your daughter and losing your sister,” Jones said. “But from where the court is sitting, my hands are tied. I have to impose a punishment that is allowable under the law, as it stands today. That is the only option that I have. And I understand that you guys feel like the system has failed you. And I understand that nothing that happens here today is going to replace what you lost.”
Palacio’s body was found in Moapa Valley near Valley of Fire State Park in September, according to court records.
She was last seen by family when she went to get drinks with Rangel-Ibarra on the day she was killed. Her younger sister, Nayelli Palacio, expressed frustration with the punishment for Jose Rangel’s charges.
At Friday’s hearing, Aracely Palacio wept as she said her daughter was studying to be a nurse and five months from graduating. Her death “left a sadness and emptiness,” the mother said.
‘It’s not fair’
“Lesly was a good girl, a good daughter, and she was a good sister,” she said. “She was my right arm, always helping me with everything. My life has not been the same. … It is not fair that Jose only has to do two years. It is not fair.”
After the slaying, authorities said, the two men fled to Mexico. Rangel later returned and surrendered to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at a border crossing at San Diego on Jan. 19, telling authorities that he had been with his son but they had split up.
Within two weeks of Palacio’s disappearance, police identified Rangel-Ibarra as a suspect in her killing.
Though her cause and manner of death had not been determined, Rangel-Ibarra faces a murder charge.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts may contact Las Vegas police at 702-828-3521 or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.