published Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Witness accounts critical to acquittal in murder trial

  • photo
    Carl Moore, right, listens to attorney Amanda Rogers during his trial Tuesday in Judge Rebecca Stern’s courtroom. A jury found Moore not guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
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Following a not-guilty verdict late Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney Dan Ripper said holes in eyewitness testimony convinced the jury his client didn't kill the victim.

"[Carl] Moore told police when he was first arrested that he didn't do it," Ripper said. "He told me that he didn't do it. There has never been any question in my mind that he didn't do it."

From the beginning of the first-degree murder trial Tuesday, through witness testimony and into the closing arguments before the verdict Wednesday, Ripper attacked the accounts of three eyewitnesses.

"The problem for the state and the reason why Mr. Moore will go free on these charges is that every single one of these witnesses had significant holes in their identification of Mr. Moore," Ripper said.

Nikita Petty, Kamika Jordan and Charles Greer all testified that, about 2:30 a.m. on July 3, 2008, they saw Moore chase Jacquard Petty through a parking lot and down the street, shooting at him with a pistol as they ran. Petty fell in the street near the 2301 Club on Milne Street and was shot in the left eye. He died shortly after at Erlanger hospital.

Ripper challenged Nikita Petty, Jordan and Greer on how well they could identify Moore in the dark as he was running. He pointed out that Nikita Petty, Jacquard's sister, first identified another man, with whom her brother had been in a fistfight moments before, as the killer.

Hamilton County Assistant District Attorneys Bill Hall and Brian Finlay prosecuted the first-degree murder case against Moore.

Shortly after the verdict, Finlay said the result highlights a problem in criminal prosecutions of witnesses seeing a crime and not coming forward to help police.

"There were a lot of people present that night who saw what happened," he said.

Felecia Petty, the victim's mother, sat stunned outside the courthouse, her eyes red with tears just minutes after the verdict.

"It's just crazy; we've been going through this three years and nothing still is happening, nothing," she said.

"They got the right guy, in there," she said, pointing at the courthouse. "I have no closure with my son, and it's not right."

Moore has a bond reduction hearing set on unrelated charges scheduled for Sept. 26. Ripper said his client will likely be freed on bond following that hearing.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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