Officer's widow contemplating whether to witness execution
Sheila Moore has managed pretty well in the dozen years since her husband,
Garland police Officer Michael "David" Moore, was shot to death trying to
prevent a bank robbery.
She and their 3 children live in a gated community near Lake Ray Hubbard.
Both daughters have graduated from high school and earned college
scholarships. A teenage son has become an avid Boy Scout.
But then, this summer, came one of the harshest reminders of Feb. 15,
1997, the day Kenneth Mosley killed Moore's husband and left her children
without a father. The family got word that a Mosley's execution had been
Moore and her 2 daughters Courtney, 20, and Caitlin, 18 had to decide:
Should they watch Mosley die by injection Sept. 24?
"A friend of mine told me I should give Mosley one last chance to ask for
forgiveness for what he's done," Moore said. "I don't know if he'll do it,
but that's the reason I would be there."
The decision hasn't been an easy one. Moore is on the witness list and
will go to Huntsville. But the 47-year-old CPA won't decide until she's
there whether she'll watch the execution.
Moore's ambivalence about the death penalty surfaced in the week after
Mosley's 1997 capital murder trial, when she questioned whether the state
should execute her husband's killer. The death penalty had not bothered
her, she said, until it became personal.
"When it's real close to home, you have to question it. Is it right? I
don't know," she said after Mosley was sentenced to death by a Dallas
"Who are we to decide whether this man should live or die?" Moore asked a
reporter who had covered the trial.
Her decision to go to Huntsville next week was made easier because Mosley
has shown no remorse, especially to her family. He has never written or
tried to contact them, Moore said.
"David believed in the death penalty," she said. "I know if it was
reversed and I was the one who died David would be there in a
As Mosley's appeals worked their way through the courts, it delayed the
need to decide how involved the Moore family would be in the execution.
"I've thought about this off and on over the years," Moore said. "I knew
we were getting to the point where the girls would be able to decide
whether to go down there with me or not."
Since both daughters are over 18, the minimum age for an execution
witness, they debated whether to put their names on the list of 5 people
who would watch the lethal injection.
"It's hard," said Courtney. "There's a lot of mixed feelings."
The family has had to weigh whether the daughters could handle the
possibility of Mosley, 51, lashing out at them as he did during the trial.
After his conviction in 1997, Mosley took the stand to plead for his life.
"The Moore family, all they wanted is somebody they think slaughtered
their loved one to die," Mosley testified. "All they wanted was a
Last week, the sisters decided they would go to Huntsville for the
execution but only as support for the people who will witness Mosley's
There was never any question that Mosley killed David Moore.
Mosley, then 38, had entered the Bank One branch on Centerville Road in
Garland around noon and was standing in line when he was recognized by
bank employees. They were certain he was the same guy who had robbed the
bank the previous month.
So someone in the bank called 911 to report "a suspicious person."
Moore, 32, was having lunch with two other Garland officers not far from
the bank when the call came in, said retired Garland Police Chief Larry
Wilson. The 3 officers hurried over.
"David was the kind of officer every chief wanted working for him," Wilson
recalled. "Everybody called him 'Mad Dog' because he was physical and at
the top of his class.
"He was always looking to do whatever it took to get the job done."
A series of bank robberies in the Garland area that winter, all linked to
the same suspect, had caught Moore's attention, Wilson said. "David told
everyone, 'I'm going to be the one who catches him.' "
Witnesses at the bank said Mosley was still waiting in line when Moore
walked in. The officer tapped the suspect on the back and asked him to put
his hands out.
Mosley drew a handgun from his pocket and fired a shot into the wall,
Wilson recalled. The two men struggled and crashed through a nearby
Once outside, witnesses said, Mosley fired five shots into Moore's upper
body. Although the officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, one of the
shots entered his chest above the vest and penetrated his heart, Wilson
Mosley tried to run from the bank but was shot in the wrist by another
Garland officer and immediately taken into custody.
"The officers gave David CPR, and CareFlite took him to Baylor hospital,"
the former chief said. "He died before I got there. It was the most
miserable day of my life."
Sheila Moore knew nothing of the shooting until a few hours later when she
and a friend drove to the Garland Police Department. They had intended to
leave the Moores' 9-month-old son, Zachary, with his father at the end of
the officer's shift. The women were planning a late lunch.
On the way, Moore's cellphone rang. It was a neighbor telling her that
something was wrong because the police were waiting outside the Moores'
house. The neighbor handed the phone to an officer, who told Moore there
had been an accident.
When Moore got to the police station, a crowd was waiting for her,
including her son's day care provider, who had been alerted by the police
to come and get the baby.
"I knew it was serious then," she recalled. "They took me into a room and
said David had been fatally wounded. It hit me like a ton of bricks."
Moore was driven to the hospital, where the medical staff allowed her to
see her husband's body.
"One of the nurses gave me his hand, and I held it for a while," she said.
"You expect him to squeeze your hand. It just didn't seem real."
Moore's attention quickly shifted to her daughters, then 8 and 5, who were
staying with a neighbor.
"How do you tell your children?" she asked herself. "I took the police
chaplain with me, but I don't think the girls really understood what
After a candlelight vigil and funeral in Garland, David Moore was buried
at his family's farm in Kentucky. At the time, the 10-year police veteran,
who served in the Marines, was only the second Garland officer to die in
the line of duty.
In 1989, Officer Gerald Ray Walker, 48, was shot to death by Daniel Joe
Hittle during a routine traffic stop. Hittle, who also was accused of
killing 4 other people that night, was executed in 2000. Walker's widow
was among the witnesses.
Moore said she was told that watching Mosley die would give her a sense of
closure about her husband's death.
"I know he is not a good person," she said of Mosley. "But I really have
not decided if I can watch him die."
A busload of police officers and family friends will travel to Huntsville
with the Moore family on execution day. Even Zachary, now 13, will be
going, his mother said. The 8th-grader will be part of the vigil outside
"He was a baby when his father died, so he has no memories of everything
that happened," Moore said.
"At least" she said, "he can have this."
(source: Dallas Morning News)
Is Rick Perry Responsible for Texas' Wild Increase in Executions?
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) presided over 200 executions between taking office
in 2001 and June of this year. During that time, Texas executed 3 times
more people than the next 3 states combined had executed since 1976. New
investigations are now raising the question of just how many innocent
people were sent to their deaths by a governor and a system that ignore
legal obligations to examine new evidence or counter prosecutorial or
Perry has been one of the most radical proponents of capital punishment in
American politics, refusing to issue a posthumous pardon to Tim Cole, an
innocent man, proven to be so, who died in prison and ignoring exculpatory
evidence in what appears to be a standard procedure that mystically
discounts the possibility of wrongful conviction in capital cases.
Gov. Perry may either be a moral coward, afraid to offend a radical
hard-right base that believes society will unravel without an aggressive
death penalty system, or he may be more eager to put people to death than
he is to achieve justice.
As detailed in a lengthy New Yorker feature for the Sept. 7, 2009, issue,
"Trial by Fire", Perry ignored a raft of damning scientific evidence
showing an arson case against a man on death row was unsubstantiated "junk
On 17 February 2004 after Gov. Perry refused to stay his execution and
falsely claimed to have judged the "facts of the case" to show guilt, Todd
Willingham was executed for a crime scientific examination appears to show
he did not commit.
For the first 18 years the Texas death penalty system was in place, Texas
executed 238 people, or about 13 per year. Since Perry took office, the
figure has risen dramatically, to 22 per year. That particular statistic
raises questions about what has changed under Rick Perry's governorship.
For one, more cases are coming to the fatal moment of execution that are
affected by Republican control of the State Court of Criminal Appeals.
Since 1995, when elected Republican judges won a majority of seats on the
Court, the rate of execution has skyrocketed. And those judges openly
pledged during their campaigns for elected judgeship to favor the
prosecution and be "tough on crime", a strange claim for a judicial
candidate whose job is to be tough on adherence to facts and to the law,
not tough on the accused in particular, who are supposed to be presumed
With at least one judge accused of professional misconduct for making
summary judgment on a death penalty appeal and a review panel that is
reported to essentially not carry out its investigative responsibilities,
operating on the assumption that the system does not fail and never
actually meeting to discuss a case, Texas is not only facing the
likelihood it will be proven to have executed an innocent man; it is the
state considered most likely to have failed its legal responsibilities in
That under Gov. Perry, the rate of executions has so dramatically
accelerated has raised the ire of human rights groups that say the state's
actions are putting the US on short lists of major violators of habeas
corpus and fundamental judicial rights that include Iran, Yemen, Saudi
Arabia and China. Some death penalty advocates say that only with
aggressive application of the stiffest penalty allowed by law can violent
crime be curbed, but there is mounting consensus among legal experts that
Texas' system is riddled with serious due process flaws that significantly
increase the likelihood of carrying out executions of innocent people.
Opponents of the Texas system say instead of deterring crime, the open
bias of politicians and judges toward the prosecution and toward the
application of the death penalty means the state is collaborating in the
escape of those who really did commit crimes that innocent people have
been convicted of. With a growing problem of human trafficking and drug
running, and the attendant violence, Texas may need to halt all executions
until the system is fixed and at last there is a means for determining
when prosecutorial mistakes or misconduct have let the guilty off by
targeting the wrong suspect.