Ex-JROTC instructor's sex offense case ends in mistrial

Jurors can't reach agreement after just more than three hours of deliberations

November 04, 2010|Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

A Howard County judge declared a mistrial in the case of a former JROTC instructor charged with having sex with a 17-year-old student, when a jury was unable to reach a verdict after deliberating for a little more than three hours.

After weighing the case against Sgt. Charles Ray Moore of Bowie for about three hours and 15 minutes — including a dinner break — the jury sent a note to Judge Timothy McCrone it was hopelessly deadlocked. McCrone declared a mistrial, and the jury was dismissed.

The panel of eight women and four men left without saying a word.

McCrone sealed the jury breakdown, but defense attorney Thomas Morrow said he would look into having that information made public.

"I guess it's fair to say that some number of jurors were satisfied that there was reasonable doubt, or that Sergeant Moore was not guilty," Morrow said.

Moore remains free on bond until his retrial, scheduled Feb. 22.

As the jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon, Morrow told reporters outside the courthouse that the two main pieces of evidence — neither of which were linked to Moore — could have been left from another sexual encounter involving the former Atholton High School student, who is now 18 and attending Howard Community College.

Though Morrow didn't raise that possibility during three days of testimony, he said he hoped that the jury would draw that conclusion and find his client not guilty.

The 52-year-old Moore, who has maintained that he did not have any sexual relationship or inappropriate contact with his former student, was charged with having sex with a minor and fourth-degree sex offense. He worked as a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps instructor at Atholton.

During Moore's testimony Wednesday, he said that the young woman had confided to him that she had twice been pregnant. On Monday, the woman testified that she had gone into the JROTC supply room with Moore on three successive days — after previously telling police it was two — and that they had intercourse on the third day after two days of kissing and fondling.

In her closing arguments, Assistant State's Attorney Susan Weinstein said that the young woman thought of Moore as a mentor, confidant and close friend. Instead, the prosecutor said, he betrayed her trust by "using her for his own sexual gratification" and hoping that "she wouldn't say anything" about their alleged trysts."

"Everything she said was true. She said it through anger, but everything was true," said Weinstein, who added that some 200 telephone calls between the woman and Moore over the 21/2 months leading up to the alleged sexual incidents were an indication of a "relationship that was far from appropriate [and] that on May 13 turned criminal."

Asked if he was disappointed by the mistrial Thursday, Morrow said, "Absolutely."

"What this has done is put pressure on Sergeant Moore and his family. … He was really looking forward to it being over today," Morrow said. "What this means, unfortunately, is he will have another two or three months of this hanging over his head until we hopefully get a verdict of an acquittal in February."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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