Charges dropped against three accused in Jackson slayings

Published 5:10 pm Thursday, October 18, 2007

Charges have been dropped against three Jackson men accused in the 1998 slayings of four people in an apartment.

Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson filed a motion Tuesday to remand the case to file. Circuit Judge Winston Kidd signed the order.

“The state has insufficient evidence to proceed because the state cannot locate a material witness and the loss of certain evidence necessary to determine the identity of the shooter,” Peterson said in the order.

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Remanding a case to file means it won’t be prosecuted, but could be brought up if new evidence is found to warrant reopening it. It’s rare to reopen a case remanded to file.

Sharrod Ray Moore, his brother, Paul Moore, and Eugene Marshall were charged each with four counts of murder.

They were accused of killing Marcus “Sweet Pea” Walker, 21, Jumaane Darnell Hill, 23, Marcus McDaniel, 26, and Howard Travis, 26, on Jan. 23, 1998.

A Dec. 3 trial date had been set in the case. Peterson had said she doubted the trial would take place before she left office in January.

District Attorney-elect Robert Smith has said he will review cases with law enforcement officers to determine which ones from Peterson’s administration to proceed with.

The decision to drop the charges came after Sharrod Ray Moore’s attorney, Chuck Mullins of Jackson, filed a motion late last month asking the charges be dismissed.

Mullins noted a photo lineup cannot be located in which witness Alex Jones allegedly identified Sharrod Moore as the person who shot him in a separate case.

“The loss of the photo lineup, whether done intentionally with bad faith or not, violated Mr. Moore’s due process rights,” Mullins said.

Mullins said Jones was listed as a prosecution witness who would testify Moore robbed him and then shot him in the leg. The shell casing that Jones turned in to police matched one of the shell casings found at the scene of the quadruple homicide.

Mullins said in the motion that his client planned to challenge Jones’ out-of-court identification and required the photo lineup to do so.

Peterson said in response to Mullins’ motion, “The state is not in possession of the out-of-court photo lineup shown to Alex Jones, nor at this time of the filing of this motion, is the state able to locate the witness.”

Sharrod Ray Moore pleaded guilty in November 2005 to manslaughter in the 1996 killings of Samuel King, 68, and Mary Donaldson, 63, owners of the Morocco Club in northwest Jackson during a botched robbery. Moore was sentenced to 15 years in prison on each count of manslaughter.

Paul Moore is charged in the Nov. 3, 2003, slaying of Howard Banyard, according to Jackson police. He is one of three men who allegedly forced their way into Banyard’s home, shot him in the leg, robbed him and then shot him in the head, police said.

The case is set for trial Dec. 3 in Hinds County Circuit Court.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger,