Posts tagged: conspiracy to commit murder
Brian Moore's lawyer Jeff Compton thanked jurors for their service and said when the trial ends, they'll go on with their lives.
But, Compton said, “what happens here with Brian Moore stays with him for the rest of his life.”
Compton disputed testimony from private investigator Ted Pulver, who told jurors Tuesday that Moore said he had planned where “the boys (Shellye's son and nephew) would be positioned when Dale Stark arrived home.
Compton reminded jurors that they were only there because Shellye's sister had hit a bull moose when driving from Priest River to Spokane to give Shellye a gun. The nephew and son were enlisted to get the gun and help Shellye serve the restraining order instead of her sister. It was a last-minute move that Moore had nothing to do with, Compton said.
“Bottom line is Ted Pulver messed up,” Compton said. “Unless the moose was in on this, unless Brian Moore can control wildlife, what he has claimed to have said by Ted Pulver makes no sense.”
(The jury foreman in Shellye's first trial said the jurors viewed the moose as divine intervention that failed.)
Compton reminded jurors of Shellye's claim of self defense.
“Before you even look at Brian Moore, you have to look at the claim of self defense,” Compton said. “There is no burden for us to prove to you that self defense was necessary.”
He reminded jurors of Christopher Stark's testimony that his father had a bad temper and would get very angry and throw things. He emphasized the seriousness of a teen boy being so afraid of his own father.
“No matter how you feel about Shellye Stark's actions,” Compton said. This isn't about her. It's about Moore.
Compton said testimony from probate attorney Mel Champagne showed the life insurance wouldn't pay out if Dale was killed.
“Without that, there really is no major motive,” Compton said. “This really is a ridiculous sort of plan, because they've set up a plan where the person who need to inherit does the killing. It's absolutely ludicrous, because Shellye Stark couldn't get it (the payout.)”
He said prosecutors seem to think Moore and Shellye were smart enough to plot a ruder but dumb enough to forget to secure the payout.
“It's simply ludicrous to suggest you would miss something so important,” Compton said.
Compton also said the idea that Chris Stark's trust fund is a “sham fund” is ridiculous. It was just an 18-year-old kid blowing money.
He said the idea that they plotted the murder to get Dale's assets if ridiculous because Shellye had equal ownership of their assets.
He pointed to the 911 recording of Shellye absolutely hysterical after the shooting as proof it wasn't planned.
“If that's acting, Ms. Stark missed her calling in life,” Compton said. “That's beyond Meryl Streep good.”
He reminded jurors that there's no proof Moore gained any money through this. No proof of big transactions to his bank accounts, etc.
“There's some big cash withdrawals, that's a fact, but there's no evidence it went to Brian Moore,” Compton said.
“The state has twisted this into some plot that never existed,” he said. Compton said that, under the state's reasoning, Shellye's entire family should be charged with murder. If Moore said he planned where “the boys” were to be positioned, shouldn't the son and nephew be charged, too?
“How about the moose? Should this be the state of Washington versus Bullwinkle J. Moose?” Compton said.
Compton said jurors can find a conspiracy if they try, but “you can read evil into anything you want.”
“In the end, Brian Moore was simply anxious to help the woman he loved,” Compton said. “We ask you to send this man home. We ask you to find him not guilty of both counts.”
Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla is giving a brief rebuttal now. He pointed to Compton's statement that the plan couldn't have exisited because it was so poorly thought out.
“People do riciulous things all the time,” Cipolla said. “If they didn't I wouldn't have a job.” He said Chris Stark never reported physical abuse by his father, and that Shellye even said in divorce filings that she wasn't afraid, she just wanted to be left alone.
“When did the idea of a restraining order come up? Right there,” Cipolla said, pointing to Moore.
“Mr. Moore was not in love with Ms. Stark,” Cipolla said. “He was a greedy man.”
Cipolla pointed to evidence that Shellye had contacted lawyers like Julie Twyford prior to the shooting. Compton said she was looking for family law attorneys. Cipolla said she already was looking for defense attorneys because she planned to kill her husband as instructed by Brian Moore.
Cipolla reminded jurors that Pulver said Moore - Shellye's pimp - needed money so he could retire.
The jury of nine women and three men will begin deliberating today but is expected to continue Thursday at 9 a.m.
Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell told jurors they've heard evidence of pre-meditated murder of Dale Stark as they hared testimony in the trial of Brian Moore.
“You've also heard evidence of twisted love and manipulation,” Haskell said.
He said the actions of Moore and Shellye Stark “took this man right there” as jurors saw a photo of a smiling Dale Stark “and turned him into that man right there” as a photo of Stark's bullet riddled body appeared on a TV screen in front of the jury.
“The reason we're here is because Dale Stark was shot to death. The question before you is 'What is Mr. Moore's liability for that?”
Haskell detailed instructions about the charges - first-degree murder and conspiracy to first-degree murder.
He said jurors don't need proof of an actual written agreement to find evidence of conspiracy.
“You can look at conduct of individuals involved in determine whether or not” it appears they acted in accordance with an agreement,” Haskell said.
He pointed to defense lawyer Jeff Compton's statement that this case is an example of law enforcement's imagination running wild, and about Moore's testimony that he was just trying to help Shellye. He also reminded jurors that Shellye traveled to Spokane to obtain a restraining order on her own.
“This is a woman that is so utterly terrified of Dale Stark, according to Brian Moore, that she comes up here on her own to do this herself,” Haskell said.
Haskell reminded jurors that Moore told Shellye to get a gun with hollow point bullets. He also questioned Moore's testimony that he never took Shellye to a shooting range in California.
Haskell said Shellye serving the restraining order was key to Moore's plan.
“It gets her in the house. It gets a reason to be there and it gets a reason to kick Dale Stark out of his house,” Haskell said. He pointed to testimony from private investigator Ted Pulver, who described to jurors Tuesday Moore's admission of the murder plot.
“This plan as designed to put Dale Stark in the most disadvantageous position he could be in,” Haskell said.
Haskell questioned why Shellye asked her 300 pound, 6-foot-2 nephew Dale Johnson to leave before she served the order if she was so deathly afraid of Dale Stark.
Haskell said Dale Stark never had a chance to attack Shellye.
“He came home and he was executed, just per the plan,” Haskell said.
Haskell reminded jurors that Moore said he learned of Dale's life insurance policy on the news after the murder, even though Moore wrote a document that mentioned the life insurance well before that. He questioned Moore's honesty on the stand today, reminding jurors that though Moore told them exact dates of threatening phone calls from Dale, he couldn't remember those dates in earlier interviews with police.
Haskell read an email from Dale to Moore in which Dale apologizes, makes no threats and says he'll leave them alone to live their lives.
Haskell also reminded jurors of testimony from probate attorney Mel Champagne that didn't refute the motive for the case as defense lawyers said. Champagne said the trust fund created for Chris Stark was one of the most unique he'd seen.
“In six months, that money was gone,” Haskell said. But not before Moore got a new car.
“The state would submit that that trust had everything to do with Brian Moore and Shellye Stark's interest, and very little to do with Christopher Stark's interest,” Haskell said.
Haskell reminded them of checks forged from Dale Stark by Christopher Stark, which were cashed by Shellye's father, Curtis Johnson.
He pointed to a letter Moore wrote to Shellye's sister, Donna Haggerty, form jail. Haggerty told jurors she couldn't read it aloud because it would make her sick. Jurors will have that letter during deliberations. He also reminded them that Moore had a credit card belonging to Dale Stark when police arrested him in California.
In conclusion, Haskell reminded jurors tha Moore claimed to be upset by the homicide but then had sex with a secretary on his office couch - the same couch detectives sat on to interview him.
“And when informed of this by Detective Hollenbeck, he laughed and said 'yeah, you're probably sitting in my DNA right now,” Haskell told jurors.
Court is on a brief break before Jeff Compton gives his closing argument.
Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla didn't hold out when he began cross examination of Brian Moore.
His first question touched on what authorities say is a pattern of deceitfulness and sordid behavior by Moore.
Cipolla pointed to Moore's statement that he was very upset when he learned of Shellye's involvement in the homicide.
“Isn't it true on the date of this homicide you were sleeping with another woman?” Cipolla asked.
Moore said that was true.
“So at that time, your love for Ms. Stark wasn't as great as it was today?” Cipolla asked.
Moore said he wouldn't characterize it that way.
Moore also admitted to lying about his education in a sworn document. He said he took the document very seriously “Obviously by your signature and misstatement,” Cipolla replied sarcastically.
Cipolla went through emails from Dale Stark and had Moore admit they didn't contain threats to kill.
Cipolla asked Moore why he was accessing Dale's accounts. Moore said Shellye gave him power of attorney.
Cipolla disputed Moore's responses several times as being dishonest, then stopped, saying it would “be fruitless.”
On re-cross, Cipolla asked if it would be prudent to provide emails with death threats in the retaining order, and Moore said that it would.
The defense rested. The prosecution recalled Detective Kip Hollenbeck as a rebuttal witness. Cipolla asked Hollenbeck if his reports were accurate, and Hollenbeck said that they were. He said Moore said he never heard direct death threats.
Court is on a break until 1:30 p.m. Jurors will then hear instructions and closing arguments.
Brian Moore told jurors today that he never plotted with Shellye Stark to kill her husband and never planned to stage the shooting to look like self defense.
He said he had no idea Shellye serving her husband with a restraining order would end in a shooting.
“If I had I never would have let her come up here,” Moore said.
He said he was shocked to learn of the shooting from Shellye's nephew, Dale Johnson.
“I was hysterical,” Moore said. Moore said he learned on the Internet that Stark had been arrested for first-degree murder. “Honestly I was so hysterical I was a little vague on all of this.”
Moore said he took the initiative to find a lawyer for Shellye and help her with her legal case. He said he was concerned about getting Shellye out of jail and used his money to help post bail.
Moore said they were looking at at least $80,000 right off the bat. He spent $15,000 initially, then probably that amount again. He said he didn't get extra money from Shellye's son's trust fund, and said the Pontiac Solstice bought with the money was a present from Shellye's son.
Moore said he still plans to marry Shellye Stark.
“My name was put on the car simply because we were going to get married,” he said.
Moore, 46, of Orange, Calif., is separated with a 19-year-old son.
Moore's testimony comes on what could be the last day of his first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder charges for the 2009 shooting death of Shellye Stark's husband, Dale Robert Stark.
Court is on a brief break right now. Then prosecutors will cross examine Moore.
Prior to Moore taking the stand, defense lawyer Jeff Compton called Ted Ponticelli of Post Falls to refute incriminating testimony given Tuesday by private investigator Ted Pulver, who had been hired by Stark and Moore but went to police and said he had concerns about Moore.
Ponticelli said Pulver had a “bad” reputation for truthfulness. Judge Greg Sypolt had limited Pontieclli's testimony to exclude statements about private investigators in Kootenai County not trusting Pulver and the Idaho Department of Corrections not being willing to work with him.
Compton also played the recording of Stark's phone call to 911 the night she shot Dale Stark on Dec. 7, 2009.
Stark is hysterical and difficult to understand as she screams and wails as a dispatcher assures her police are on their way to 1620 S. Maple St.. (Read a past story on the tape here.)
Moore, who described himself as a paralegal and small business owner, told jurors he met Shellye through a website designed to help prostitutes and clients meet each other “and do it in a safe manner.”
Moore met Shellye in person when they both arrived to help a mutual friend.
“I was impressed,” Moore said. “I mean, she's not a beauty queen. She's not a model…she's a human. When she smiled the room would light up. She had a great personality and she was a great human. I fell in love with her.”
Moore said they began to spend time together socially. He denied ever seeing her “professionally” and said he learned she was an escort in September 2007. He also learned she was married.
“I basically told her she needed to file for divorce,” Moore said. Why? “She told me she didn't want to be married any longer to this man,” Moore said.
So Shellye went to Alaska to meet with Dale and try to settle things. Moore said the agreement they came up with was very unfair to Shellye.
“I was shocked. I was absolutely stunned by the paperwork,” Moore said. “…It was something that clearly came about form what I presumed to be duress or stress or some sort of coercion.”
Moore said Shellye was expected to pay spousal support, but she had quit working as a prostitute and had no money while Dale was working regularly and making good money.
Moore told jurors he encouraged Shellye to tell her family about her work as a prostitute so Dale couldn't hold it over her anymore. “She had been so abused for so long,” Moore told jurors of Stark.
Moore said he's never traveled to Spokane prior to the shooting of Dale Stark, nor had he been to the Maple Street home. He said he never took Shellye to a shoot range or anything of that nature. He told jurors Dale called and threatened to kill them, “so I sent Shellye up here to get a restraining order.”
“He was trying to be subtle but he wasn't being subtle,” Moore said. “…It's a very subtle form of manipulation.”
Moore said he suggested Shellye use the Sheriff's Office to serve the restraining order, but Shellye said she didn't know when Dale was going to be home. Moore said she didn't take her advice because she thought her sister would suffice as protection.
Compton asked Moore if he communicated with Stark via a “throwaway phone” after the murder because a private investigator told him police were monitoring his phone calls. He said he didn't use it prior to the shooting. He said he didn't provide her with a gun and only learned of the shooting afterward from her nephew.
Prosecutors say the case against Brian Moore will include evidence of not just premeditated murder, greed and financial gain.
“You're gong to hear about twisted love and manipulation.”,” Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell told jurors during his opening statement this morning.
Haskell told the jury of 10 women and 4 men - two are alternates - that they'll hear how Moore planned the December 2007 murder of Dale Robert Stark with Stark's estranged wife, Shellye L. Stark in order to access his assets, which included a $400,000 life insurance policy.
“You're going to see evidence and hear evidence that Brian Moore conspired with others to eliminate Dale Stark,” Haskell said.
Haskell described the restraining order Stark obtained and the gun she arranged to get from her sister.
“You're going to hear evidence that this gun was in her hands at the request and demand of Brian Moore,” Haskell said.
Haskell said Moore planned a way for the restraining order to be served that was “designed to anger Dale Stark and put Shellye in a manufactured self defense position, and this type of defense was researched by Brian Moore.”
Dale had a firearm in the kitchen, but it was removed at the request of Moore, Haskell said.
Haskell described Moore researching Dale's bank accounts and assets.
Haskell said Moore set up a “sham trust fund” for Christopher Stark and used the money to by things like a new Pontiac Solstice, which was seized in California when police arrested Moore.
But defense lawyer Jeff Compton said prosecutors are letting their imaginations run wild.
“People are blessed with imaginations, and that's a good thing. But when your imagination runs away from you, if it's not constrained by the facts, it can be kind of a destructive thing,” Compton told jurors. “Authorities have not looked at the facts and compared them to their imaginations. They put a worst possible spin on everything that Brian Moore has said and done.”
Compton said Moore loves Shellye Stark.
“Everything he did for her was to help her because of the situation she was in with her marriage…what took place on Dec. 8, 2007, was not preplanned but was something that came about because of Shellye Stark's fear of her estranged husband.”
Compton told jurors Moore first communicated with Shellye in an online chat room involving prostitution and escorts.
He met her in person in 2007 through another woman he knew in California.
“Brian was immediately impressed with Shellye Stark,” Compton said. “She was intelligent. She was funny. She was personable.”
Moore was helping Shellye draft a more equitable divorce plan. He was shocked when he learned of the murder and devoted himself to helping Shellye, Compton said. That involved looking at any available financial assets that might help pay for her legal defense, Compton said.
Compton told jurors to pay close attention to the testimony of Mel Champagne, an attorney involved in the probate of Dale Stark's will. Champagne told The Spokesman-Review in 2008 that case “has just mushroomed..It's really fun from a practitioner's point of view, because it's very unusual.”
Compton said Champagne's testimony at trial will refute “the existence of the motive.”
“You have simple actions by Brian Moore that have been twisted to try to fit a conspiracy theory,” Compton said. “There was never any plot on behalf of Brian Moore and Shellye Stark to kill Dale Stark, and Brian Moore certainly didn't assist her in that.”
Testifying today were Spokane police officers Mario Juarez and Gene Baldwin, as well as Sgt. Brent Austin, who responded to 1620 S. Maple St. the night Dale Stark was shot to death. The Starks' son, Christopher, also testified.
Christopher Stark said he wanted to stay with his father until his father developed a romantic relationship with a cleaning woman and told Chris she would be moving in.
“There was nothing really I wanted to say to him other than I didn't agree with it,” Chris said.
Chris said his father had been trying to get Shellye back. He said his father never hit him and said he never saw him strike Shellye.
“I don't remember ever seeing it,” Chris said.
But Chris did say he feared his father.
“He was a rather angry man,” Chris said. “When my father got angry, it seemed like the whole world was crashing down.” Chris said Dale would yell, flail his arms and throw things. He said he and Shellye would spent hours cleaning up the home after Dale left in a fit of rage.
Chris also described the night of the shooting and the events leading up to it, including his father's reaction to the restraining order. His testimony mirrors testimony given during his mother's trial in 2009. But it includes new information on the trust fund that was established for him after his father's death. Prosecutors are trying to show jurors that Chris got very little of that money, and that Moore used most of it for himself.
Chris told jurors that he went in on a business plan with Moore involving medical marijuana.
Shellye L. Stark is led into court on April 9, 2009. (SpokesmanReview archives)
A murder trial nearly five years in the making begins today in Spokane County Superior Court as jurors begin to hear the case of a California man accused of conspiring with his prostitute-turned-girlfriend to kill her husband in Spokane.
Brian Leigh Moore, 45, (left) is accused of conspiring to murder Dale Robert Stark to access the man's assets, including a life insurance policy.
Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt. Moore is represented by Jeff Compton. Mark Cipolla and Larry Haskell are prosecuting.
Stark (pictured right) was shot to death on Dec. 9, 2007, by his estranged wife, Shellye Stark, in what Shellye told jurors was self defense for years of abuse, including forced prostitution.
Jurors convicted her of first-degree murder in March 2009 and she was sentenced to 51 years in prison, but her convictions were overturned because of problems with jury instructions. She's in the Spokane County Jail awaiting trial.
Prosecutors don't beleive Moore was even in the state when Dale Stark was killed, but they beleive he persuaded Shellye to commit the crime and are persuing not only a conspiracy charge against Moore but a first-degree murder charge as well.
Moore was working as a paralegal in Southern California when he met Stark, who advertised online as a traveling prostitute named Nikita Jennifer.
Moore has said his legal work focused on helping women escape prostitution and abusive relationships, but Spokane investigators believe he used that profession to manipulate women with low self-esteem and relationship problems for financial gain.
Stark shot her husband to death after her sister drove a gun down from Priest River, Idaho. Her sister crashed into a bull moose, so Stark's nephew retrieved the gun from the wreckage and gave it to Stark in the parking lot of the hospital where her sister was taken. It wasn't the last we heard from the bull moose - police say Moore, in an attempt to explain his frequent trips to Spokane after the murder, lied to his wife and told her he was working on a legal case for a driver in the area who had hit a bull moose.
A key prosecution witness is Moore and Stark’s former private investigator Ted Pulver, (pictured( who went to police with concerns about Moore. He described Moore as bragging about the plot and discussing Dale Stark’s life insurance policy in detail.
Dale Stark’s life insurance money went to his son with Shellye Stark, who then funneled money to Moore and his mother to pay her legal defense, according to the affidavit.
A 2007 yellow Pontiac Solstice convertible police say Moore and Stark bought with the money remains in police custody.
Also expected to testify is Moore's sister-in-law, who reportedly heard him discuss a big payout from the life insurance policy.
Another witness is Wendy Fox, a former secretary who Moore claims witnessed Dale Stark threaten him and Shellye Stark.
Also subpoenaed to testify was an attorney who worked with Moore, Michael Kendall. Kendall reportedly told police Moore admitted forging Kendall's signature on a Spokane Superior Court document regarding Dale Stark’s will and $400,000 life insurance policy. “Moore told Kendall that he did not reveal all of the details of his knowledge of Dale Stark’s murder because he didn’t want “Shellye Stark to look bad,'” according to court documents.
Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck traveled to Orange County, Calif., in April 2009 to arrest Moore. He was found at a rental warehouse with unregistered guns and homemade silencers. The weapons netted him a 21-month federal prison sentence.
In a letter to the judge who sentenced him, Moore said the effects of his arrest and imprisonment have been “to say the least, dramatic.”
“I have lost everything, from my good name, to the respect of my son,” Moore wrote. “I can not begin to express my shame.”
It’s the second time prosecutors have pursued murder charges against Moore. They withdrew the original charges in October 2009 after a judge ruled key evidence from Pulver couldn’t be used against Moore. Pulver is allowed to testify against Moore, but he can't discuss his investigation into Shellye.