March 11, 2014

Affidavit: Fort Worth man charged with killing wife hid evidence

Jerry Wayne Moore told police that his wife was threatening suicide when he lunged for her gun and it went off, but police say the evidence doesn’t match his assertions.

When police responded to the attempted-suicide call at the home on Forest Lane on Jan. 31, they found Jerry Wayne Moore hugging his wife as she lay fatally injured in the master bedroom with a gunshot wound to the neck.

Larissa Easley, Moore would tell police, had been threatening to hurt herself and had made such threats in text messages. That morning, he said, the couple had argued. Moore said he left the bedroom as Easley, the owner of Hilltop Montessori School, kept yelling at him.

When he returned, he told police, he found Easley holding her .40-caliber Glock 22 handgun to her chest.

“Jerry said that he attempted to get the gun away from her and lunged for it,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained Tuesday by the Star-Telegram. “Jerry said that the gun was against her chest when it went off.”

Moore, 47, told police that as Easley fell, the gun went off twice more. Police would find bullet holes in a love seat cushion and the bed’s box springs.

But the evidence didn’t match Moore’s claims, according to the affidavit, written by homicide Detective Tom O’Brien.

Examinations of Easley’s body and the robe she was wearing lacked the gunpowder patterns indicative of a close-range shooting. And police found evidence that Moore had tampered with the crime scene and hid evidence, the affidavit says.

On Tuesday, Moore was formally charged with murder, court records show.

He remained in the Mansfield Jail on Tuesday, awaiting transfer to the Tarrant County Jail. His bail was set at $100,000.

Trey Loftin, Moore’s attorney, said Tuesday that he is surprised by what’s lacking in the arrest warrant and affidavit.

“All this officer did was give a very incomplete picture to a judge to support his theory of this case,” Loftin said.

He said the affidavit fails to mention that police had been called multiple times to Easley’s home on reports that she was holding a gun and threatening to shoot herself or her husband. Nor does it mention that Loftin had hand-delivered a formal diagnosis from Easley’s psychiatrist stating that she was suicidal.

Loftin said he asked investigators to conduct gunshot residue tests on Easley’s hands. But the affidavit doesn’t indicate whether such tests were performed.

“I am shocked they would not put a complete picture of what happened,” Loftin said.

Apparent inconsistencies

According to the affidavit, inconsistencies in Moore’s account quickly became apparent to investigators.

Though Moore initially told police that he never left the master bedroom from the time of the shooting until police arrived, a search of the house in the 6000 block of Forest Lane that morning revealed only two spent shell casings in the master bedroom.

Police would find a third casing hidden beneath other items in a cigar box in another bedroom, the affidavit says.

After numerous denials, Moore admitted that he picked up a shell casing (later telling detectives that he had stepped on it and picked it up so paramedics would not slip on it) and that he might have put it in his room, the affidavit says.

The love seat cushion with the bullet hole had been turned over completely. Moore told investigators that he had lifted the cushion while looking for his cellphone.

And forensic examinations of Moore and Easley’s cellphones revealed no texts indicating that Easley had been threatening to hurt herself, the affidavit says.

In a Feb. 12 interview, Moore admitted that the Glock 22 was his gun, not his wife’s. Loftin said Moore had lied because his criminal history prohibits him from having a gun.

Moore reiterated that the gun had gone off three times, with a couple of seconds separating the second and third shots. A neighbor would later report hearing only a single gunshot when she went outside to get her newspaper that morning.

Police officials would not comment Tuesday on when they believe the two other shots occurred, citing the ongoing investigation.

Using a fake gun, Moore demonstrated for detectives numerous times during the Feb. 12 interview how the shot to Easley’s neck occurred, never indicating that the gun was more than a foot away from her body when it fired.

But the affidavit says tests using the exact gun and ammo found that gunpowder particles would have resulted from a shooting at that range.

“… The lack of powder patterns on the victim and robe clearly shows the gunshot that killed Larissa Easley could not have happened the way Jerry Moore said it did,” the affidavit says.

“Jerry Moore was the only other person in the house at the time of the shooting and admittedly tampered with [the] crime scene by changing the scene and hiding evidence.”

Lawyer: Story consistent

Loftin said that in multiple interviews with police, Moore has been steadfast on the main parts of his account. Loftin said Moore told police that his wife was suicidal and taking medication for it and that on the morning of her death, she had pulled a gun after starting an argument with him.

“She threatened him with the gun and threatened herself with the gun, as she had on multiple occasions prior to this incident, that they wrestled for this gun and that a terrible accident happened,” Loftin said.

In the chaos and grief after the shooting, Loftin said, his client simply forgot to tell police that he had picked up a shell casing. He said Moore’s accounts to police simply show that his story wasn’t rehearsed.

“I’m just not terribly surprised that he can’t remember every detail as perfect as the world would like him to,” Loftin said. “His stories are consistent. What makes them credible is they’re not perfect.”

Loftin said Moore has always cooperated with police and never tried to flee.

“In the middle of this, I have a client who has cried almost nonstop for 30 days because he misses his wife,” Loftin said.

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