New leads pursued in minister's slaying Investigators probe unsolved '90 killing of Sen. Young's friend

September 04, 1997|By Scott Higham, Kate Shatzkin, and Walter F. Roche Jr. | Scott Higham, Kate Shatzkin, and Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

Federal and city investigators have developed new leads in their probe into the unsolved 1990 slaying of a Baltimore minister who was one of state Sen. Larry Young's closest friends, according to law enforcement sources.

The investigators, assigned to a statewide unsolved murders task force, have located a new witness who says he has fresh information about the killing of the Rev. Marvin Moore, who was fatally shot in the head May 19, 1990, in his West Baltimore bedroom.

The investigators have also interviewed another witness who placed Young and Moore together the day before the slaying -- apparently contradicting the senator's statement to investigators seven years ago that he hadn't seen Moore for three days, the sources said.

For years, the case has frustrated even the most seasoned Baltimore homicide detectives, capturing the attention of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the state prosecutor's office and a city judge.

The pursuit of the new leads comes despite the fact that the man police believe pulled the trigger has been dead for four years. Investigators are focusing on who else may have been involved in the killing, the sources said.

Young, 47, a powerful West Baltimore Democrat portrayed by investigators as a key figure in the murder probe but not a suspect, said yesterday that investigators have not contacted him about the slaying since he was first interviewed in 1990.

"I stand by everything that I said then," he said. "I hold to it. I'm not going to deal with conjecture. I won't even give credence to any other alleged this, alleged that. There's nothing to change -- nothing less, nothing more."

The senator said he still misses Moore.

"In life, you only have five best friends. I considered him one of those," Young said. "His loss is a major one. I wish and pray that the unanswered question could get answered. If you were to ask me who in my opinion killed Marvin, I don't know."

An FBI supervisor said yesterday that an agent is investigating the case with Baltimore detectives. "We have a working relationship with them on cold-case homicides," said David Knowlton, the FBI agent in charge of the Maryland field office.

Baltimore homicide commander Maj. Kathleen Patek declined to comment.

Despite the recent developments, sources familiar with the probe stress that officials are not close to filing charges or bringing the new information before a grand jury. One source described the case as "problematic." But he said the new witness, a drug trafficker serving a long federal prison sentence, has provided additional details.

"It filled in some of the holes," the source said. "It bolsters our theory of how the murder was executed."

Investigators believe that Moore, 38, a minister and gospel music promoter, was slain by a bail bondsman who had been hired by one of Moore's disgruntled business associates. Investigators also believe someone let the bail bondsman into the West Franklin Street apartment while Moore slept.

On May 19, 1990, Moore's family became concerned because they hadn't heard from him. Accompanied by Young, they went to the locked apartment that afternoon and discovered Moore's body face-down on his bed.

Young was later questioned by homicide detectives. According to law enforcement sources, the senator told the detectives that he hadn't seen Moore in three days.

But in recent weeks, an FBI agent and a veteran homicide detective have questioned a witness who claims to have seen Young and Moore together at a fund-raiser the day before the slaying, the sources said.

In sworn grand jury testimony, another witness also contradicted Young's statement to homicide detectives. A one-time staff aide to the senator testified five years ago before a Baltimore grand jury that he spoke to Moore the evening of May 18, 1990, and believed that Young was inside the apartment.

He also testified that he saw Young's car parked outside the apartment that night.

Cornelius "Jake" Jeffreys testified Nov. 23, 1992, that he served as a driver for the senator and that Moore also worked as a staffer. Jeffreys said that he called Moore on May 18, 1990, and that Moore told him he couldn't talk because someone was in the apartment.

"Did you know who he was referring to?" Assistant State's Attorney Mark Cohen asked, according to a transcript of the proceeding obtained by The Sun.

"Yes," Jeffreys said.

"And who was that?" Cohen asked.

"Senator Larry Young," he said.

Jeffreys also testified that it was unusual to see Young's black Pontiac 6000 outside the apartment at night.

Why? the prosecutor asked.

"Because the senator normally don't hang around like that at night," Jeffreys said.

Jeffreys said he knocked on the door of Moore's apartment. "And I get no answer, but I heard, like, gospel music," he testified.

The next day, Jeffreys said, he returned to Moore's apartment and knocked on the door.

"It was the same thing, church music," Jeffreys testified.

"Did you see Senator Young's car?" Cohen asked.

"No," he said.

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