Jury finds Moore guilty

He was charged with murder in death of county officer

Three-hour deliberation

Prosecutors to seek life without parole at June 5 sentencing

April 03, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Wesley Moore was convicted of first-degree felony murder by a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury last night in the killing of county police officer Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero during the robbery of a Pikesville jewelry store in February 2000.

Moore, 25, of Baltimore showed no emotion as the verdict was announced.

But Prothero's widow hugged her father, who had sat next to her for most of the four-day trial for Moore, the third defendant to be convicted in the killing.

"It doesn't get any easier," Ann Prothero said. "Not at all."

The jury of six men and six women deliberated for three hours before convicting Moore on all 11 counts: first-degree felony murder, six counts of armed robbery, three counts of first-degree assault and a handgun violation.

Prosecutors said they will request a sentence of life without the possibility of parole when Judge James T. Smith Jr. sentences Moore on June 5.

Prothero, a father of five, was shot three times Feb. 7, 2000, as he chased four men out of J. Brown Jewelry Store on Reisterstown Road after a robbery at the store, where he was working a second job as a security guard.

Moore's half-brother, Richard Moore, 30, of Baltimore is charged as the shooter. He will face the death penalty when he is tried April 16 before Harford County Circuit Court Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr.

Donald Antonio White Jr., 19, and Troy White, also known as Antonio Marcell Talley, 23, both of Baltimore, each were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the fall after they were convicted by separate juries of first-degree felony murder, armed robbery, assault and handgun charges.

Paul DeWolfe, Moore's lawyer, emphasized in closing arguments that police had tear-gassed the home of one witness and raided the home of another, and that in the days after the killing, Moore's behavior was "consistent with innocence."

He said that when Moore and a friend were approached by a city police officer and asked for identification a day after the killing, Moore didn't run.

Another friend of Moore's testified that Moore visited him two days after the killing and that they spent hours listening to and playing music.

"The evidence from the government shows Wesley behaving in a way that's consistent with innocence," DeWolfe argued.

But Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst told jurors that Moore's conduct in the two days after Prothero's death proved nothing. Moore was not identified as a suspect until three days after the killing, she said.

"He thought he had gotten away with murder," she told jurors.

Wesley Moore was arrested with Richard Moore at a great-uncle's rowhouse in Philadelphia two weeks after the slaying.

Assistant State's Attorney Steve Bailey said that Moore's attempt to flee to Philadelphia was one piece of evidence, but he asked jurors to consider the state's entire case.

He said that Moore might not have intended Prothero's death, but that under the state's felony murder statute, all four defendants are as guilty as the shooter in the slaying.

"They didn't necessarily plan to kill, but they were prepared to do it," Bailey told jurors.

Prosecutors called 25 witnesses and used 60 exhibits, including videotapes from store security cameras, photographs produced from the videotapes, and DNA that placed Moore at the scene. A store sales clerk also identified Moore in testimony as one of the gunmen in the store that day.

A 13-year-old girl gave police a statement Feb. 17, 2000, saying that Moore visited her house with Richard Moore a few days before the killing to pick up two handguns.

But she recanted in her testimony, saying that she was angry when police arrived to take her statement at Harlem Park Middle School, where she was a student.

She said she was angry because about 30 city police officers had raided her family's home in Baltimore a week before, broken down their door, handcuffed her brother and threatened to arrest her grandmother.

DeWolfe emphasized yesterday that testimony showed that police had harassed the girl's family and other witnesses in the wake of Prothero's death.

"She was 12 years old and she was frightened," he said. "Look what happened in this house, where the door is broken down. Nobody said this didn't happen."

Brobst also noted that the principal at Harlem Park Middle School and a school police officer backed the police version of the girl's meeting with county detectives - who said she was cooperative and calm. She said the evidence showed that the girl had lied in her testimony.

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