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Jury deliberations ongoing in cop-killing trial of Jonathan Renfro

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 12, 2017, 6:07 p.m.

Jonathan Renfro is led away from the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday, Oct 12, 2017. He is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore on May 5, 2015. The trial, in which the state is seeking the death penalty, starts today. Kathy Plonka/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Jonathan Renfro is led away from the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday, Oct 12, 2017. He is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore on May 5, 2015. The trial, in which the state is seeking the death penalty, starts today. Kathy Plonka/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

David Robins took a deep drink from his water bottle Thursday, appeared to collect himself and turned toward the jury. The prosecutor then laid out a series of events in which, he said, Jonathan D. Renfro “ambushed” Sgt. Greg Moore and shot him in the face.

“You know the truth,” Robins said. “And the truth is the defendant back on the 5th of May, 2015, was prowling the streets of Coeur d’Alene looking to commit crimes with a stolen gun.

“Sgt. Moore was out patrolling looking to prevent it. He was killed in an ambush-style murder. Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Moore was murdered by the defendant and the defendant’s motive was to avoid going back to prison.”

The jury began deliberating at about 12:30 p.m., moving towards the conclusion of what attorneys called the “guilt phase” of the trial.

However, no verdict was returned and jurors will remain sequestered overnight. Deliberations resume Friday.

If the jury convicts Renfro of first-degree murder, prosecutors will try to show the existence of one or more aggravating factors.

Should the jury find that those factors exist, they will then decide whether Renfro should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, or whether he should receive the death penalty.

Defense attorney Linda Payne did not dispute that her client shot Moore. However, she said the prosecution failed to show that he intended to kill Moore.

“If this is such a slam dunk case, why did it take Mr. Robins 45 minutes to convince you?” Payne said. “From the very beginning, the investigators had their theory wrong. They thought JD took the gun out of his pocket, and like a gangster, shot him.”

She pointed out that investigators didn’t know until this summer that Renfro fired the gun from his jacket pocket. Payne said her client only wanted to shoot Moore in his bullet-proof vest to aid in his escape. But Moore reached out and grabbed Renfro’s arm, she said, changing the shot’s trajectory.

She said her client, a convicted felon, wasn’t out prowling when Sgt. Moore rolled up on him in a patrol car.

“If he didn’t want to go to prison because he had the gun, then why did he give Sgt. Moore his license? It doesn’t make sense,” Payne said. “He knows the minute Sgt. Moore stops his car” that he was likely to be searched, she said.

“He could have shot him right then and there but he didn’t,” Payne said of Renfro. “What happens? Sgt. Moore saw that empty holster. He put his hand on his gun, started to unclick it. JD instinctually reacted to shoot.”

Payne offered sympathy to Moore’s family but asked the jury to look past the pain.

“This is terrible,” she said. “It’s a horrible situation and devastating to the family and friends. But you are not here to make them feel better by finding a verdict of first-degree murder.

“Mr. Renfro is not guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder,” Payne said. “He is guilty of voluntary manslaughter.”