Photo by Elaine Rackley
A Clayton County Asst. District Attorney, Katie Powers talked with a member of the prosecuting team, attorney Marcus Thorpe in the Patrick Moore murder trial.
JONESBORO — Patrick Ramon Moore’s attorney accused the prosecution of conducting a “trial by surprise” Thursday as the murder case advanced to closing arguments today.
As each side rested its case, a witness testified that Moore, 23, posted Facebook messages from jail about the Jan. 3, 2011, shooting which claimed the life of Tracy Burton Jr., 20, of Riverdale. Agis Bray, a Clayton County Assistant Public Defender, told the court he knew nothing about the evidence of Moore’s Facebook posting or his client’s use of a cell phone while in jail.
“We are basically going to have a trial by surprise,” said Bray, who told the court the new evidence was being entered on the fourth day of the trial when the witness, Toni Hale, had known about the Facebook posting for nearly a year.
“Anyone who had access to his password could have made the posts,” said the defense attorney. “We do believe that it is in bad faith on this witness to bring this information on the fourth day of the trial. She brought it to the attention of the court the morning she was to testify.”
Nevertheless, Clayton County Superior Court Judge Geronda V. Carter permitted the new evidence to be used.
Hale told prosecuting attorney Katie Powers about Moore posting messages on his Facebook page while in jail and read one post aloud in court, “Damn I guess this is what happens when you don’t take no ---- and refused to be ----- with.”
In another Facebook posting Moore allegedly wrote, “The resolution is not to scratch up my trigger finger.”
Moore faces charges of 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. Other shooting victims include Jervod Jarvis, Fabian Ellis, and Erica Peterson, Clayton County Police allege.
Police allege Moore, of Morrow, is a Vice Lords gang member. Hale testified she lived with him at the Royal Pointe Apartments, where the shooting took place. The couple had known each other since high school.
Hale also testified Moore called her on numerous occasions from his cell phone while he was in jail.
Hale testified she regretted telling Moore anything about her apartment being burglarized. She said Moore initially laughed about the burglary, then turned angry.
Hale said she lied to police because she was scared and was under the influence when they questioned her at her job about knowing anything about the shooting.
“On Jan. 5, I lied to the police,” Hale said. “On Jan. 7, I called the police and told them I lied.”
Hale told the court the next day following the shooting, Moore text her giving her instructions.
On Jan. 4, he told her “done deal ... You need to dump that.” She responded via text “I did that earlier.”
Hale testified the text message was referring to AK-47 bullets he left at her apartment. She also told the court she gave Moore information about undercover police in the apartment complex.
Powers played a recording of telephone conversations between Moore and Hale from a jail phone after he was arrested, for the court. At times, Moore and Hale could be heard laughing about the shooting, as Hale interrupted him before he could talk more about the incident.
“Can I say I loved that girl so much that when her apartment ... ” Moore said.
“Hey, hey, you are tripping,” Hale interjected.
“I was laughing,” Hale said. “Because, he said that on a recorded phone call. I was like you big dummy.”
“Did the defendant ever tell you he acted in self-defense?” asked Powers.
“No,” Hale replied.