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Thread: Brian Keith Moore - Kentucky Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Brian Keith Moore - Kentucky Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    Was sentenced to death on November 29, 1984 in Jefferson County for kidnapping, robbery and the murder of 79-year-old Virgil Harris on August 10, 1979 in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Harris was returning to his car from a grocery store parking lot when he was abducted, driven to a wooded area of Jefferson County and killed.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    November 9, 2008

    DNA-based Death Row appeal denied

    A Kentucky death row inmate has lost his bid to use DNA testing to overturn his conviction and sentence after a judge ruled that the tests were too inconclusive to overcome the other evidence.

    Jefferson Circuit Judge James Shake ruled Friday that because DNA tests in the case of Brian Keith Moore were not definitive, there's nothing to undercut the evidence presented at his trial for the 1979 murder of Virgil Harris in Louisville.

    Moore, 50, was convicted based in part on dirt and blood found on a set of clothes prosecutors said were worn by the killer.

    DNA tests were conducted on a jacket and shirt. The testing found samples from at least three people, but could not exclude Moore as one of the donors. Shake turned down requests for more specific testing after the initial tests were inconclusive.

    In the ruling, Shake listed a litany of evidence presented at trial tying Moore to Harris' death, including Moore's fingerprints on the victim's car and on a coin wrapper, as well as four witnesses who saw him in Harris' car.

    "Even if it were demonstrated that another individual contributed DNA to the 'murder clothes,' the probative value of the trial evidence is undiminished," Shake wrote.

    (Source: The Associated Press)

  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Ky. inmate wins hearing on independent DNA tests

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky death row inmate has won a hearing on whether he should get further DNA testing on evidence from a 1979 murder, but authorities losing evidence in his case doesn't warrant overturning the conviction, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

    The decision, in the case of 53-year-old Brian Keith Moore, means a circuit judge will have to consider whether there is enough evidence in the murder of 77-year-old Virgil Harris of Louisville to warrant more testing on several articles of clothing used at Moore's trials.

    Justice Mary Noble wrote that Kentucky's law allowing DNA testing "only gives the right to a test, not to reversal of a conviction simply where testing is impossible." Testing on the lost evidence could have been favorable to Moore, but the circuit court is not required to speculate about how the test results would have impacted the case, Noble wrote.

    "Such rank speculation cannot be used to undermine a conviction and sentence that has, in all other respects, been upheld as fairly and lawfully obtained," Noble wrote.

    The ruling sparked a dissent from Justice Bill Cunningham, who criticized repeated appeals in death penalty cases, which he said have caused a decline in the application of death sentences in recent years.

    "The death penalty, authorized by our democratically elected legislature and mandated by the electorate, is being slowly strangled by the lack of common sense from both state and federal appellate courts," Cunningham wrote. "I am afraid that our decision today is another such example."

    Moore, one of Kentucky's longest-standing death row inmates, was convicted at two trials of killing and robbing Harris, who was on his way from a store where he bought bananas for his ice cream shop in downtown Louisville. Prosecutors say Moore was later seen wearing Harris' watch and driving his car. Moore claims another man, now deceased, killed Harris and framed him. Police found out about Harris' death from the other man.

    Moore won DNA testing on clothes used as evidence at the trial in 2006, with the results showing DNA from multiple people on them. Jefferson Circuit Judge James Shake found that those results weren't enough to exonerate Moore and that the law didn't allow for further, independent testing.

    Shake also ruled that Moore wasn't entitled to a new trial even though several items of clothes used as evidence had been lost.

    Noble ordered the circuit court to consider whether independent DNA testing would prove valuable in Moore's case. The justice noted that different types of DNA testing can be meaningful in different types of cases. To win further testing, Moore must demonstrate that the tests can show something more than DNA from multiple people on the evidence in question.

    In this case, there are several possible explanations for the presence of DNA from multiple people on the clothes — that the items were left in a pile of laundry before police collected them and that attorneys and evidence technicians handled the clothing over the past 30-plus years.

    "These scenarios could explain the presence of another person's DNA on the clothing," Noble wrote.

    Cunningham, in a brief dissent joined by justices Will T. Scott and Wil Schroeder, said there was abundant evidence to convict Moore, including statements he made to police giving details of the killing shortly after being arrested and a witness' claims that Moore was in Harris' car after the slaying. Cunningham also noted that Moore was twice tried and sentenced to death for killing Harris, calling it a "long, tortuous road."

    Cunningham said "common sense" should dictate when more DNA testing is done and the court has shown that sense in other rulings. But, in this case, Cunningham wrote, "the logic escapes me."

    "Yet, here we are three decades after the murder of this elderly victim sending it back for more findings by the trial court," Cunningham wrote. "Why are we sending it back for more findings to determine if there should be more testing?"


  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Moore v. Commonwealth

    Appellant Brian Moore was convicted of the robbery, kidnapping, and murder of Virgil Harris and sentenced to death. After the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, Appellant unsuccessfully sought to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence at both the state and federal levels. Appellant then pursued post-conviction DNA testing under Ky. Rev. Stat. 422.285 in the circuit court. Appellant came before the Supreme Court seeking additional DNA testing beyond that ordered below or, in the alternative, to vacate his conviction and sentence for several reasons, including the post-trial loss of evidence that was to be tested for DNA. The Commonwealth cross-appealed as to several issues. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the orders of the circuit court, holding (1) the Commonwealth's cross-appeal was without merit; and (2) although Appellant did not demonstrate that his conviction and sentence should be vacated, the circuit court erred in reading its power to order independent DNA testing to be limited by statute. Remanded.

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