[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Nov 19 19:08:03 UTC 2006
Moore's record reveals remorseless brutality.
The day after Michael Keith Moore killed a pregnant woman in her Round
Rock home, he was sitting across from a detective at the Georgetown police
station, answering questions about his suspected involvement in an
Moore wasn't summoned to the Georgetown station; he went on his own to
confront the rape accusation, a notably brazen act for a man who had slit
a handcuffed woman's throat only the day before.
Still, such boldness conforms to the profile of Moore that emerges in
court documents, parole records and conversations with those who have
dealt with the 31-year-old, whose trouble with the law began at age 13 and
who has spent almost all of his adult life behind bars.
That past is one reason investigators take seriously Moore's recent
confession that he raped and killed Rachel Cooke, a Georgetown woman
missing since Jan. 10, 2002. It is also why Lampasas police are
investigating Moore's possible connection to an attempted kidnapping 21
days before Cooke's disappearance.
The attempt was made about 10 p.m., when the young woman pulled up in
front of her Lampasas home after work. A pickup stopped behind her, and
the man got out and struck up a conversation, Lt. Investigator Jody
"He tried to grab her (while) out on the street, but after a short
struggle she was able to free herself," Cummings said. "She fled into her
house, and he fled" in the truck.
Cummings said he later became interested in Moore based on the woman's
description of her attacker. "I made note that, just based on physical
similarities, that Mr. Moore can be a suspect in my case," he said.
Moore is a high school dropout of average intelligence who fully believes
he's the smartest guy in any room part of his self-image as irresistible
to women and intimidating to men, acquaintances say. He delights in toying
with law enforcement and is so sure he can outwit investigators that he
has dropped hints about his involvement in a crime and then reacted with
anger and shock when they figured something out.
He is most frequently described as unpredictable, arrogant and
According to his father, Ronald Moore of Houston, Michael Moore has been
in trouble since he was 13 years old.
Moore's juvenile record includes at least three arrests for burglarizing
homes. He also was arrested for theft, for leading police on a high-speed
chase through Waller County and for making a bomb threat at Leander High
School in 1991. With his parents divorced, Moore was twice sent to Kansas,
where his father lived, in 1990 once after a January arrest for burglary
and again after a May arrest for unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Remorse, his father said, is a foreign emotion for Moore.
"He has no guilt on anything he does; he never has," Ronald Moore said.
"And he can stand in front of you and lie to you, and you cannot tell
whether he's telling the truth or lying."
When a young Michael Moore shoplifted, his father said he took Moore back
to the store to return everything in front of the clerk and customers. The
experience didn't faze the boy, Ronald Moore said.
His family once sought a psychological evaluation, but Moore fled the
facility before doctors could diagnose him, his father said.
"You stand up for your kids. You stand up for them, but there's got to be
a point when you say, 'No more.' . . . I reached that point," Ronald Moore
said. "He's (in prison) where he belongs. It's where he started out in
life at 13, where he was headed anyway."
3 clear patterns
A review of Moore's criminal history reveals three compelling patterns of
His inability to stay out of trouble.
In 1993, Moore received a 60-day sentence, to be served on weekends, for
using a BB gun to break dozens of home and car windows in Georgetown.
Although the sentence also called for a 10-year prison term if Moore got
in legal trouble again, he failed to check into jail for his 1st weekend
stint. That's because he was being held in the Travis County Jail for
punching his girlfriend and future wife, who is nearly 20 years his
senior, and for putting a knife to her throat.
Moore would spend the next 4 1/2 years behind bars, yet the lesson wasn't
learned. Parole violations would land Moore in prison 3 times over the
next 7 years.
Much of Moore's legal trouble revolved around sexual misconduct.
On Feb. 24, 2004, Moore's stepdaughter-in-law awoke to find him rubbing
her leg in bed. Moore, who was arrested 2 days later for burglary and
assault, knew she would be alone that night, Bettye Johnson testified at
his parole revocation hearing.
Moore has not been out of jail since. But at the hearing, his parole
officer recommended that Moore receive a "sex offender evaluation" before
being released from custody, noting that a previous revocation hearing
also involved a sexual offense: rape.
On Sept. 20, 2003 three days before Moore would kill Round Rock resident
Christina Moore, who is not related to him he attended a Georgetown
party, during which a 20-year-old woman reported being raped after her
clothes were cut away as she slept. Moore was a suspect and met with
detectives on Sept. 24 and Oct. 8. No charges were filed in the assault,
but Moore's parole was revoked because he provided alcohol to two minors
at the party.
Georgetown police Detective Bill Pascoe would not comment on the
interviews, saying the rape investigation remains open.
Other questionable actions included writing sexually charged letters to
his then-teenage stepdaughter from prison. Moore tried to cut off her
shorts as she slept, stole her underwear several times and secretly
videotaped her, according to court records.
While he was in custody at the Williamson County Jail in 2004 and 2005,
Moore manipulated the locks on his infirmary cell to have sex with at
least one female inmate and to masturbate in front of others.
Moore is unintentionally self-destructive in his dealings with police.
Four days after Christina Moore's murder, Michael Moore anonymously
telephoned investigators to say that he had found checks bearing her name
in a pay phone coin-return slot. It would be one of the most obvious clues
linking Moore to the murder.
The break came when Moore's stepdaughter-in-law approached sheriff's
deputies in February 2004 to discuss Moore's break-in at her home. She
also mentioned that Moore once claimed to have possessed checks bearing
Christina Moore's name. When detectives played the audiotape of the
anonymous caller, she identified the voice as Michael Moore's.
Two days later, Round Rock police began questioning Moore about the
According to videotaped interviews with police, Moore volunteered to
officers that someone might have reported seeing him in the victim's
neighborhood, but he added that it wasn't true. Asked why someone would
say that, Moore sat silently with his arms crossed.
The detectives waited. Moore spoke again, asking if he would be charged or
arrested and then continuing before they could answer.
"This is exactly what I didn't want to happen," Moore said. "I knew
something like this was going to happen."
Moore's actions match behavior patterns frequently seen in repeat
criminals, said Mark Young, a retired FBI agent who spent 15 years as a
behavior analyst, or profiler, during 32 years with the agency.
"One of the things that we have seen over the years with repeat or serial
offenders, especially predatory offenders even burglars and bank robbers
is they develop a sense of omniscience. They are all-seeing, and going
with that is a narcissistic attitude that 'I am more powerful, I am
smarter than the police,' " he said.
"We see that a lot," said Young, now a law enforcement consultant from
Truth or manipulation?
Moore also voluntarily provided leads on Cooke's disappearance, speaking
in enough detail to enable Williamson County District Attorney John
Bradley to charge him with murder, alleging that he hit Cooke with a
hammer and suffocated her.
In his prison confession, Moore said he was driving around Georgetown in
search of something to steal when he encountered Cooke jogging along a
street, according to a source familiar with the case who asked to remain
anonymous because the investigation is active.
Moore said he struck Cooke in the head with a hammer, drove her to another
location and raped her, the source said. He also confessed to throwing
Cooke's body, wrapped in a tarp and weighted down with rocks, into
Under an agreement, Moore was to plead guilty to Cooke's murder and lead
investigators to where he had left her body. He also would show where he
buried her jewelry and other personal effects, but instead he pleaded not
guilty on Nov. 9, reneging on the deal.
Moore who worked as a janitor, furniture mover and fireplace installer
during the rare times he was out of jail had reached a similar deal in
the Christina Moore case in February. After a jury convicted him of
killing the Round Rock woman, but before he was sentenced, Moore pleaded
guilty in exchange for four concurrent life sentences. He also guided
investigators to her wedding rings, which were buried near a cactus in
western Williamson County.
The question now is whether Moore's confession in Cooke's disappearance
was the truth or a hoax.
Investigators are working to build a case against Moore. Bradley has said
that if Moore's description of Cooke's death is accurate, a capital murder
charge, which carries a sentence of life in prison or death, is possible.
"All you can do is evaluate the evidence that you have and, based upon
experience, form an opinion that that is the person who we should be
focusing on," Bradley said. "I continue to have a high level of confidence
that the appropriate person we should be investigating is Michael Moore."
Ronald Moore described his son as tough, the veteran of a number of prison
fights. But murder seemed beyond the realm of possibility until the
evidence was revealed during the Christina Moore trial, he said.
"I know they got the right person on that," Ronald Moore said. "This other
one, I don't know."
If Moore killed Cooke, he should be held responsible, even if that means
the death penalty, Ronald Moore said. But it seems out of character that
his son, whom he described as manipulative, would admit to the crime when
confessing offered nothing to gain, Ronald Moore said.
It's more likely that his son is relishing an opportunity to toy with
investigators and prosecutors, and that's not fair to the Cooke family, he
"I hope through all of this they get to the truth . . . because these
people need closure," Ronald Moore said. "It's another one of his crimes,
playing with those people's emotions."
(source: Austin American-Statesman)
Murder trial jury near deadlock
Jurors will return Monday morning to continue deliberating in the trial of
a 43-year-old man accused of robbing and fatally beating a convenience
store owner nearly 4 years ago.
The jury of 5 men and 8 women deliberated for about 5 hours -- and sent
out at least 1 note saying they were deadlocked -- before recessing for
Sandy Ray Dickerson is on trial in state District Judge Mike Thomas'
court, accused of capital murder in the Dec. 6, 2002, slaying of Satish
Sharma, a native of Lahore, India, in what is now Pakistan, was killed
during a robbery inside his store in the 3000 block of Mansfield Highway.
The crime scene was bloody and messy, investigators said. Money,
cigarettes and other products were strewn about the small store.
There were no arrests in the case for more than 2 years. Then in February
2005, police arrested Dickerson, saying they had found circumstantial
evidence linking him to the slaying.
During the trial, prosecutors Dixie Bersano and Mark Thielman told jurors
that, although there were no witnesses to the killing, the crime scene
told the story.
They contended that Dickerson and an unidentified person entered Sharma's
store, robbed and brutally beat him -- striking him at least 18 times --
with an object, which was not found.
They suggested that Dickerson was injured and left a calling card: His
fingerprints on 2 cigarette packages, 1 on the counter and 1 behind the
counter; a drop of his blood on a package of cookies found near Sharma's
body; and a smudge of blood on a newspaper that contained the DNA of
Dickerson, Sharma, and a 3rd person.
Prosecutors reminded the jury that Dickerson, in a statement to homicide
detective Jose Hernandez, maintained that he had never been inside the
store, much less robbed it and killed the owner.
Prosecutors said the fingerprint and DNA evidence proved that Dickerson
was in the store.
They said he was lying to distance himself from the crime.
"How easy would it be to say, 'I bought beer and cigarettes'?" Bersano
asked the jury.
"But over and over, he said, 'I was not there.' "
Defense attorneys Greg Westfall and Joetta Keene acknowledged that their
client lied about being in the store, but said he did so because he didn't
trust police and didn't think that they would believe him.
They offered jurors an alternative scenario.
Keene suggested that Dickerson went into the store and was about to
purchase two packs of cigarettes, leaving his fingerprints on them, when
he realized that he had forgotten to pick up beer.
While Dickerson was getting beer out of the cooler, a man burst into the
store and attacked Sharma.
When the man noticed Dickerson, Keene suggested, he turned on Dickerson
and began to fight, which is why Dickerson's blood was on the package of
cookies. She said Dickerson ran out and never looked back.
The defense team suggested that the killer had Sharma's and Dickerson's
blood on his hands and left the smudge on the newspaper, which accounted
for three DNA contributors. The defense lawyers reminded jurors that a
bloody palm print found on the counter belonged to neither Dickerson nor
Sharma and that much of the blood evidence taken from the crime scene was
never tested for DNA by Fort Worth's crime lab.
"Sandy is not going to win the best citizen award," Keene said. "He'll get
an F for that, but that does not make him a capital murderer."
At 3:45 p.m., after about 4 1/2 hours of deliberations, jurors sent out a
note saying they had voted 5 times and were deadlocked.
The judge told them to keep deliberating. Less than an hour later, the
panel sent out a note saying it still had not reached a verdict.
Thomas then recessed the panel for the weekend. The jurors are scheduled
to return at 8:45 a.m. Monday to resume deliberations.
(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Man still waiting for justice
Jerry Fuentes was working at a restaurant in Alvin on Oct. 1, 1996, the
night his entire life changed.
Only he was not supposed to be at work.
That night, his children, his estranged wife and a friend of hers were
shot and killed at the wifes home in a trailer park north of Alvin.
"The weekend it happened I was supposed to have the kids, but I got called
into work," Fuentes said. "I blamed myself for years."
When police arrived on the scene at the trailer home in the 19000 block of
Amoco Drive that night, they found the body of his wife Veronica Fuentes,
27, and her friend John Gomez, 18, who was barely alive. Both had been
shot several times....
The fast-paced environment of managing a fast-food restaurant became too
much to cope with while at the same time dealing with the memory of his
wife and children, so he quit and started working as a handyman. Working
alone at carpentry, plumbing and tilesetting helped keep what had happened
off his mind.
4 years ago, Fuentes started dating a woman he met through a mutual friend
while both were living in Houston. The woman, Veronica Gonzales, helped
him out of his drug and alcohol abuse, he said.
"Shes the reason I'm still here," he said. "She's brought me up from the
The 2 now are engaged and live in Austin. They moved away from the Houston
area, in part, to get away from where the murders had taken place.
"I saw the life in the hell he went through," Gonzales said. "He needed a
Jerry lives with his fianc and her 19-year-old son, Joshua. Living around
her son has helped Jerry slightly with the pain of losing his own
children, even if his fiancee and her son have the same first names as his
late son and wife.
"That kind of freaked everybody out," Gonzales said.
Fuentes now works for a construction company, and the manual labor keeps
his mind from wandering, he said.
He harbors some anger about the appeals process, and he wont hide how he
feels about Martinez.
"He's got to die, I'm sorry," Fuentes said. "The 4 people didn't have a
chance. They didn't get 10 years."
KEY NUMBERS FROM THE MARTINEZ MURDER CASE
10----Number of years that have passed since the Alvin shooting deaths of
Veronica Fuentes, her children Joshua, 5, and Cassandra, 3, and a friend,
8----Number of years since Virgil Martinez was convicted of the crimes and
sentenced to death.
1----Number of years since Martinez death sentence was overturned by a
federal appeals court. No hearing date on the states appeal of that
decision has been set.
1----Number of inmates from Brazoria County cases currently on death row
in Texas. Martinez is the only one.
10.4----The average number of years an inmate stays on death row in Texas
before they are executed.
(source: The Facts ---- John Tompkins covers the Brazoria County Sheriff's
Department for The Facts)
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