Testifying as a victim, a federal judge today explained how a prolific South Hill burglar traumatized his family, forcing him night after night to explain to his young children that they would be safe to sleep through the night.
The family of the admitted burglar, 32-year-old Nathan D. Moore, then launched an emotional plea for leniency, blaming his bizarre behavior on adverse reactions to new medications used to control debilitating seizures.
“We have a really awful situation here,” Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza said. “I understand you have an epilepsy problem. I don’t minimize that in any way. It has been offered as a possible explanation that it was … a side effect of the medication. But none of that rises above a theory.”
Cozza then sentenced Moore to the maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
The sentence followed testimony by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice, who was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in November 2011 when Moore broke into a kitchen window while Rice and his family slept.
“Every day for weeks, I had to console my children that they would be safe,” Rice said. “There are dozens of burglaries here. I can tell you the psychological impact that causes.”
Rice, who helped solve the case by tracking down his wife’s stolen Starbucks card, added: “He’s lucky he didn’t get shot by somebody.”
Moore actually was confronted by one homeowner, who had a gun, but he “continued on with a different burglary,” Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Andi Duggan said.
She said Moore eventually shifted from eight residential burglaries to hitting five South Hill businesses where he “took very little of value but caused a lot of damage getting it.”
Moore, who cried for much of the hearing, first apologized to Judge Rice and another woman victim, before addressing Cozza. Moore had been earning about $50,000 as a supervisor at a call center and he has two young daughters.
“I am offering a sincere apology. The events of 2011 were very confusing,” Moore said. “I have looked into the mirror for hours … trying to find the person who would do this. I couldn’t find him.”
He said he’s cycled through 11 different medications trying to control seizures that sometimes come in several episodes over several hours. The string of burglaries occurred within weeks of trying the latest anti-seizure medication.
“I ask for forgiveness … for shattering (his daughters’) entire lives and hurting so many others,” he said.
But Duggan pointed out that Moore had been convicted once as a juvenile and another time as an adult for burglary.
“It just is not a defense to say I was taking medication,” she said. “I don’t believe, given his history, that this is a sufficient mitigating factor.”
Moore’s mother, Melissa Bothum, pleaded with Cozza to give her son leniency, saying she fears that her son’s flailing actions while coming out of seizures could be construed by jailers as being non-compliant.
“I cannot fathom why anyone, especially my son, would give up a life with them to steal” purses and other items, she said referring to her granddaughters. “I know people want justice … but no one will benefit from incarceration.”
But Cozza disagreed. “In some sense, there is a benefit,” he said. “It disables Mr. Moore from victimizing people for a period of time.”
The judge then granted Bothum’s request to allow Moore to delay his reporting to the jail until this morning to give him time to say goodbye to his daughters and to obtain anti-seizure medications needed for his time in prison.