JONESBORO — The first witness to take the stand in the Patrick Ramon Moore murder trial allegedly was one his shooting victims.
“We didn’t expect nothing like this to happen,” said Erica Peterson, the first witness to testify for the prosecution Tuesday. She contradicted the defense’s claim that the shooting was self-defense, saying that none of the four victims had weapons.
Moore, 23, of Morrow, is charged with malice murder, two counts of felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and three counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. The Jan. 3, 2011, shooting claimed the life of Tracey Burton Jr., 20, of Riverdale. Other shooting victims include Jervod Jarvis and Fabian Ellis, according to Clayton County Police.
Moore, a Vice Lords gang member, according to authorities, was arrested the next day, following a joint investigation by Clayton County Police and the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Clayton County Superior Court Judge Geronda V. Carter listened along with the jury as lead state prosecutor Katie Powers gave her opening argument. Powers told the court Moore was his own judge, jury and executioner.
“He stood with an AK-47, firing not once, twice, or three times, but 14 times as chased those terrified men and women,” said Powers. “Tracey Burton had a bullet hit him in the back of his head, it went through his skull. Fabian Ellis laid beside his friend looking at his brains. He had to pretend to be dead. Erica Peterson was shot through her pants but the bullet struck her cell phone. Jarvis was shot in the chest when the paramedics arrived, they could see his lungs.”
Powers described how angry Moore was the day of the shooting, after he discovered his apartment had been robbed.
“He cussed at his girlfriend, Toni Hale, all day long,” Powers said. “He had Toni to call Erica. He made sure they came over so he could ambush them.”
Powers said following the shooting Moore called a friend and made a morbid request and admission.
“Go outside and see if they are all dead,” Moore said, according to Powers. “I was aiming at all four of them.”
Lead defense attorney Agis Bray said his client was protecting himself.
“Four people approached Mr. Moore with weapons, these were not unarmed people,” Bray said during his opening statement. “We believe the encounter was an act of self-defense and preservation of self. The weapons you are going to hear about were disposed of and never found. It was a flat-out gunfight.”
She testified Moore bragged about having an AK-47 last November.
Peterson, 18, told the court she argued with Hale on the day of the shooting. Peterson testified Hale was living with Moore at the time, and Hale suspected Peterson along with the other shooting victims of robbing her apartment of an Xbox and television.
On the stand, Peterson said she and Hale also dated while Hale was dating and living with Moore. Peterson said Hale gave her a key to their apartment but denied having anything to do with the robbery.
Peterson said she, along with the other victims, went to talk with the person who claimed they saw the group robbing Moore’s apartment.
“Before we could all get inside the apartment, Toni Hall and Moore pulled up,” said Peterson. “We argued and I told her I didn’t have her [expletive].”
If Moore is found guilty, Powers has recommended that he should receive life without parole plus 90 years.