PLATTE COUNTY, Mo. — A St. Joseph man has received an 18-year prison sentence after holding an 18-year-old at knifepoint in Kansas City.

Christopher Mejia, 48, had only been out of prison for 100 days before holding the 18-year-old at knifepoint to steal his debit card.

Mejia was sentenced July 28 after a Platte County jury convicted him of felony stealing and armed criminal action in March.

“This defendant is the textbook definition of a career criminal,” Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said. “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.”

With Mejia’s five prior felonies, Zahnd’s office used a part of Missouri law to charge Mejia as a persistent felony offender, which increased the sentences he could receive.

At trial, prosecutors provided proof that in February 2021, Mejia held the 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.”

The victim provided Mejia his debit card, which Mejia gave to a partner who took $380 from the victim’s account at an ATM. The bank’s ATM camera recorded the transaction, which was played throughout the trial.

Mejia held the victim at knifepoint until the partner 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.

Mejia faced a maximum of 15 years in prison for the armed criminal action charge and up to 10 years in prison for the theft charge as a result of Zahnd’s decision to charge him as a persistent felony offender. According to Missouri law, these sentences must follow one another in order.

A Jackson County judge handed down an 18-year sentence despite Zahnd’s office asking for the maximum 25-year penalty.

“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,” Zahnd said.

“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.”