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Opening Statements In Michael Moore Trial
In opening statements in the death penalty trial of former Warren Co. sheriff's deputy Michael Moore, his attorneys claimed he shot his father, Warren, in self-defense after hearing an argument between his parents that ended with his father shooting and killing his mother, Madge.
"The deaths of Warren and Madge are a tragedy. Michael shot and killed his father but he did not commit murder," defense attorney Joanne Lynch said in her opening statement.
Moore's attorneys conceded their client tried to cover-up shooting his father. The former Warren Co. Sheriff's deputy called 911 on June 12, 2009 and claimed an intruder shot both of his parents in the head and shot him in the groin.
Dispatcher: "What did he look like?
Michael Moore: "One person with a gun, mask. I don't know. I didn't see him."
In opening statements, Moore's attorneys said that story was a lie he made up to protect himself and his family.
"How in the world could he let the community know that his well-respected, well-loved parents lives had ended this way," Lynch asked the jury rhetorically.
Moore's attorney claimed there was an argument at the house that night. Lynch told jurors Madge, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, had given Michael her last Oxycontin for the day which sparked an argument between Madge and Warren. Lynch said Moore heard what sounded like a pop and his mother falling to the floor. When Moore walked upstairs to see what happened, he and his father struggled on the steps and Warren shot his son hitting him in the scrotum and leg, Lynch claimed. A physical struggle followed and Michael wrestled the gun from his father, shooting him twice in the head as he fell to the ground. Moore then tried to conceal what he had done, Lynch said.
"He walked up the stairs with that gun, he opened the door to the back deck and he threw the gun up on the roof." The gun belonged to Warren Moore.
Assistant, Boone Co. Commonwealth Attorney, Jason Hiltz, told jurors Michael Moore was a drug addict who was disabled, unemployed and stole from his family. Hiltz said the Moores had given their youngest son a place to live and tried to take care of him. In fact, the night before the Moores were killed, Hiltz said Moore went on a drug binge with friends when he had told his parents he was traveling to Atlanta.
"All evidence points to the same conclusion. That Madge and Warren Moore paid the ultimate price for their unconditional love," Hiltz said. He added, "You're going to hear about the physical evidence that makes the story that Mr. Moore told the 911 dispatcher - and the police and his friends and family - how that story was physically impossible to have happened."
Several Boone Co. sheriff's deputies testified about what they saw when they arrived at the Moore's home the night of the murders. They said they found Warren Moore lying face down with his hands up on the inside stairs of his bi-level home. Madge was found "curled up in a fetal position" with large pool of blood around her head in the kitchen, according to deputy Bob Houp.
Houp said the front door of the home appeared to be locked when he and other deputies tried to get inside the house. He also said Michael Moore was in the basement moaning for help when he arrived. Houp testified he found the couple's dog locked in a bedroom.
Defense attorneys questioned the deputies about their methods including a time stamp on a camera used to photograph the crime scene along with who moved the bodies of the Moores. Deputies said EMT's moved them from their original positions when they came in the house to see if the Moores could be helped.
Two neighbors also testified. One said she heard a loud noise like metal banging and 15 minutes later there were sheriff's cruisers all over her street. A man testified he didn't hear anything that night.
Moore faces the death penalty if convicted. The trial could last between five and seven weeks. Testimony resumes Friday morning at 9 a.m.