Statement to informant can be used, judge rules

Prosecutors say Moore admitted killing Prothero

March 27, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Prosecutors seeking the death penalty against Richard Antonio Moore will be allowed to use statements in his trial next month that they say incriminate him in the killing of county police Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero.

Harford County Circuit Court Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. has ruled that prosecutors may use statements they say Moore made to a jailhouse informant and a county police detective after he was arrested in Philadelphia two weeks after the slaying.

Prothero, a 35-year-old father of five, was shot three times Feb. 7, 2000, as he chased four men after a robbery at J. Brown Jewelers in Pikesville, where he was working a second job as a security guard.

Moore, 30, of Baltimore is charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and assault. Charged as the shooter, Moore could receive the death penalty if he is convicted in Harford County, where the case was transferred at his request. The trial is scheduled to start April 17.

Moore's brother, Wesley Moore, 25, is being tried during the next three weeks before Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge James T. Smith Jr. on first-degree murder charges in Prothero's slaying.

Jury selection for Wesley Moore began yesterday.

Plitt's rulings in Richard Moore's case -- signed Thursday and released yesterday -- were based on testimony at hearings Feb. 28 and March 1 that were requested by Moore's lawyers, public defenders Amanda Bull and Samuel Truette.

Moore's lawyers had argued that the statements should be inadmissible because they were made after Moore invoked his right to a lawyer.

Defense and prosecution lawyers declined to comment on Plitt's rulings yesterday.

County police Detective Philip Marll testified Feb. 28 that he told Moore of the charges a few hours after his arrest, advised him of his Miranda rights and stopped questioning when Moore requested a lawyer.

Marll testified that as he was leaving the interview room at Philadelphia police headquarters, Moore asked him, "How much time can I get for armed robbery in Baltimore County?"

Marll also testified that on March 3, Moore asked Marll why a police technician was taking a court-approved blood sample from him. Marll testified that he told Moore he planned to see if his blood matched the blood left on the display cases in the jewelry store. Moore said "OK," according to Marll's testimony.

Plitt ruled that both statements are admissible because they did not result from police questioning.

"There was simply no interrogation," Plitt wrote in a 32-page decision. "This court finds as a fact that the statements made by the defendant to Detective Marll were made ... without any prompting."

Plitt, who will preside over Richard Moore's trial, also ruled that prosecutors may use a statement that they say Moore made June 10 acknowledging being the "trigger man" to William T. Silver, an inmate in the Baltimore County Detention Center.

Silver testified that he was in jail awaiting trial on a theft charge and was being treated for stomach pains in the infirmary when Moore was brought in with about 10 other diabetic inmates for medication.

Silver testified that he tried to elicit comments from Moore by asking a group of inmates in the infirmary why a co-defendant in Prothero's slaying, Troy White, had not fled the Baltimore area with the jewelry after the robbery.

White, who is also known as Antonio Talley, was convicted of first-degree murder and armed robbery in the slaying and was sentenced Oct. 17 to life without the possibility of parole and a consecutive 45-year term.

Silver testified that during his conversation in the infirmary, Moore acknowledged that White had been involved, but said that he "shouldn't be telling" on White "even though he [Moore] was the trigger man."

Plitt ruled that Moore's comments to Silver were admissible because at the time, Silver was not acting as an agent for the police.

"When he [Silver] approached Mr. Moore and struck up the conversation with him on June 10th, he was free-lancing," Plitt wrote.

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