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Moore defense gives closing argument

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.

Moore prosecutor gives closing argument

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.

Moore testimony ends; defense rests

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.

Moore denies involvement in Stark killing

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.

Testimony begins in Brian Moore case

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.

Read coverage of that here.

Aug. 6, 2010: Theft charged ddropped against Stark's father

March 22, 2009: Stark jury foreman speaks out

March 4, 2009: Stark jailed for violating release conditions

Murder trial begins for Stark’s boyfriend

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.

Shellye Stark to be tried again for murder

A Spokane woman serving 51 years in prison for murdering her husband in 2007 will get a new trial. The Washington Supreme Court last week rejected a petition by prosecutors to review an appellate court decision calling for a new trial for Shellye L. Stark.

A new trial has not been scheduled but is not expected to occur until at least after Stark's boyfriend, Brian L. Moore, stands trial on murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges, which is set to begin Oct. 11.
 
Stark (pictured above at trial and at left in a prison mug shot from January 2010) claimed self defense during her two-week trial in Spokane County Superior Court. She told jurors she shot Dale R. Stark (right) in their home at 1620 S. Maple St., on Dec. 9, 2007, after years of abuse, including forced prostitution.
 
A jury convicted her in March 2009 after a two-week trial before Judge Tari Eitzen.
 
The appellate court's 3rd division overturned her convictions last December after finding fault with jury instructions and other legal technicalities, including the fact that Stark's co-conspirators were not named in the instructions.
 
The guarantee of a new trial is the latest twist for a case that attracted national attention from true crime television shows as Stark described years of abuse and bizarre sexual abuse that began with forced prostitution in Hollywood early in their marriage.
 
The couple were separated in 2007 when Shellye Stark moved to California and continued advertising online as a prostitute named Nikita Jennifer.
 
Stark said she'd been threatened by her husband and returned to Spokane to obtain a retraining order. Her sister drove from Priest River to Spokane to help serve the order and provide firearms but was hospitalized after striking a bull moose. Stark's nephew retrieved guns from the wreckage to give to Shellye Stark, who told jurors she need them for protection.
 
Click here for past coverage. (I covered every day of the trial.)

Shellye Stark’s convictions overturned

The murder conviction against a Spokane woman who claimed she killed her husband in self defense after years of forced prostitution has been thrown out by a state appeals court.

In a 3-0 ruling, the appellate court’s 3rd division ordered a new trial for Shellye L. Stark, who is serving a 51-year prison sentence for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale R. Stark at 1620 S. Maple on Spokane’s South Hill.

The judges found fault with the trial court’s jury instructions and other legal technicalities.

Read my full story here.

Click here for past coverage. (I covered every day of the trial.)

Killer’s boyfriend pleads not guilty

The boyfriend of a woman serving 51 years in prison for murdering her husband pleaded not guilty this morning to charges connected to the same slaying.

Brian L. Moore, 44, remains in Spokane County Jail on $2 million bail. His trial is set for Jan. 24 after he pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale R. Stark.

Police don’t believe Moore was present when Stark was killed, but they believe he persuaded Shellye L. Stark to commit the crime in order to access the man’s assets, including a life insurance policy.

Spokane police traveled to California earlier this month to pick up Moore, who recently completed a 21-month federal prison sentence for an unregistered rifle and firearms silencer found in his Orange County warehouse last year.

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 a private investigator hired by Moore and Stark couldn’t be used against Moore.

Past coverage:

Nov. 19: Killer’s beau jailed on $2 million bail

Killer’s beau jailed on $2 million bail

A 2007 murder case in which a jury rejected the killer’s claims of forced prostitution and other abuse continued in Superior Court today as the convict’s boyfriend appeared on murder charges.

Brian L. Moore, 44, remains in Spokane County Jail on $2 million bail after appearing on charges first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale R. Stark.

Police don’t believe Moore was present when Stark was killed, but they believe he persuaded Shellye L. Stark to commit the crime in order to access the man’s assets, including a life insurance policy.

Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck traveled to California this week to pick up Moore, who recently completed a 21-month federal prison sentence for an unregistered rifle and firearms silencer  found in his Orange County warehouse last year.

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 a private investigator hired by Moore and Stark couldn’t be used against Moore.

The new charges were filed just days before Moore was sentenced in U.S. District Court on the federal weapons charges.

Public Defender John Whaley said the case against Moore is weak.

While reading the 20-page affidavit supporting the charges, “I never saw what the state must be thinking of as the smoking gun in this case,” Whaley said.

Moore was working as a paralegal in Southern California when he met Stark (pictured), who advertised online as a traveling prostitute named Nikita Jennifer.

Moore, who declined an interview request, 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 for financial gain.

During a jury trial in March 2009, Shellye Stark claimed self defense and told sordid stories of forced prostitution and other abuse at the hands of her husband.

But jurors rejected her claims, which investigators believe were thought of, in part, by Moore. She’s serving a 51-year prison sentence.

The information used to support the news charges against Moore does not appear to be substantially different than what was presented last fall.

Moore and Stark’s former private investigator, Ted Pulver, remains a key witness, describing 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 the couple bought with the money remains in police custody.

 

Killer’s boyfriend: ‘I have lost everything’

Murder charges against Brian L. Moore, boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye Stark, were filed Aug. 26 - exactly one year after he was indicated on U.S. District Court in the Central District of California on two federal weapons charges. 

Moore was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison in the federal case. He’s already served about 16 months. Spokane police hope federal authorities will transport him here. If not, detectives will go get him.  The charges are the second try for prosecutors.

Moore’s federal public defender, Sean Kennedy, had objected to federal prosecutors in California discussing the Stark murder case in Moore’s sentencing documents, saying the “salacious” details had nothing to do with Moore.

But Spokane investigators believe Moore masterminded the plot to murder Dale Stark, helped control his assets and trained Shellye to use firearms.

He was arrested in an Orange County warehouse in April 2009 with unregistered guns and homemade silencers.

In a letter to the judge, Moore said he kept the weapons because they reminded him of happy memories with his father. Working with guns was “how my father and I perpetuate our relationship,” Moore wrote. “This is how I heard him say, “I love you.”

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. Ii can not begin to express my shame.”

Read my full story on the new charges against Moore here.

This story about Moore’s first arrest on murder charges provides more details:

April 28, 2009: Boyfriend accused of helping plan Stark murder

Federal trial for killer’s boyfriend delayed

A federal weapons trial for a man Spokane police believe helped prostitute Shellye L. Stark murder her husband, then concoct a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe investigators, has been postponed.

Brian L. Moore, 43, is now scheduled to go to trial on June 15 in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. A pre-trial conference is set for June 7.

Moore was previously scheduled to go to trial May 11 on two federal charges of possession of an unregistered firearm in connection with a rifle and firearm silencer on a pistol seized from a warehouse where he was staying in Orange County, Calif.

Spokane police raided that building in April 2009 when they arrested Moore on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale Robert Stark.

Shellye Stark is serving 50 years in prison after a jury convicted her of first-degree murder in March 2009.

Spokane County prosecutors moved to dismiss murder charges against Moore last year after a judge threw out key evidence from a private investigator hired by Moore and Stark.

The dismissal came just before Moore’s public defenders were going to ask a judge to permanently dismiss the charges because of lack of evidence. This way, prosecutors still can recharge Moore with murder, which they say they plan to do.

Also charged in relation to the case is Shellye Stark’s father, Curtis A. Johnson. Johnson is set to go to trial June 14 on one count of first-degree identity theft after police say he cashed two checks with signatures forged to look like Dale Stark’s.

Read past coverage of the Stark/Moore case here.

Lawyer: Moore’s federal charges ‘beatable’

The firearm silencer and rifle Brian L. Moore is charged with illegally possessing weren’t recovered during a search of his warehouse in Orange County, Calif., by Spokane police.

They were recovered when Moore’s brother, Dan Moore, gave them to police and said he’d found them in the warehouse after the search. That detail was revealed Tuesday at a bail hearing for Moore in federal court in Spokane, in which he was ordered to stay in jail pending his return to California to face two federal charges of possession of an unregistered firearm.

(Moore was arrested in April and accused of helping his girlfriend, Shellye L. Stark, plot the Dec. 9, 2007, murder of her husband, Dale Stark. Prosecutors dropped the charges this month but say they’ll refile.)

Moore’s public defender, Tina Hunt, questioned Detective Kip Hollenbeck (top right) about that in an effort to convince U.S Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno that Moore should be released and allowed to return home on his own.

Hunt went through each witness statement and pointed out the fact that none had actually said they’d heard Moore (bottom left) say he had anything to do Dale Stark’s murder. She also highlighted conflicts in each witnesses’ relationship with Moore that she argued discredited them.

“Each and every one of these witnesses have biases that attach to them,” Hunt said. “All of these women have reason to lie.”

Hunt scoffed at the state’s claim that the first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore will be refiled, saying that “common sense” indicates that if prosecutors had a strong murder case, they wouldn’t put it aside so the feds could proceed on less serious weapons charges.

“There’s nothing (for the witnesses) to be afraid of anymore because these charges have been dismissed,” Hunt said. She later said the federal charges look “beatable.”

She also asked how, in “all of the deviousness” police allege encompasses Moore, could he have lived 43 years with no criminal record?

“The truth is because he’s not the person that they are alleging,” Hunt said.

But Imbrogno ruled that Assistant U.S Attorney Matt Duggan had shown through Hollenbeck’s testimony that Moore was in fact a risk to the public and ordered him to remain in federal custody.

He’ll now be transported to California.

Moore to remain in federal custody

The boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye L. Stark will remain in custody on federal weapons charges, a judge ruled today.

Brian L. Moore’s public defender, Tina Hunt, had asked that Moore be released and allowed to return to Orange County, Calif., on his own.

But assistant U.S Attorney Matt Duggan used testimony from Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck to try to show that Moore is a threat to public safety.

Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno agreed and granted a motion to hold Moore.

Moore was arrested in April on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, but those charges were dismissed this month at the request of the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutors say they’ll refile, but the move is largely seen as a way to avoid a hearing in which a judge was to rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss.

By making the dismissal request, the prosecutor’s office made it so the charges were dismissed without prejudice instead of with prejudice, meaning they can be refiled and not evoke double jeopardy.

I’ll post more details from the hearing later today. UPDATE: Ran out of time today; check back tomorrow.

Courthouse watch: 9.15.09

The married boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye Stark could be released from jail Thursday.

Brian L. Moore’s public defender argued for him to be released at a bail hearing today, but a judge delayed the decision so federal officials can verify where Moore will be staying in Orange County.

Assistant U.S Attorney Jill Bolton had asked for Moore to remain in custody until he’s transported to California to face federal weapons charges. Her reasoning hinged on the fact that Moore has no money to pay for his return to California.

“This is the first time I’ve heard we should hold a defendant so he can get a free ride home,” said Moore’s lawyer, Tina Hunt.

Moore’s transportation to California can be worked out with family members, Hunt said.

“He doesn’t need a free ride with the Marshal’s office,” she said.

Absent from the government’s argument to hold Moore was the fact that the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office intends to refile charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

“The case was dismissed,” Hunt said. “There’s no reason to hold him on anything or believe that he did anything wrong.”

The charges being dropped basically amounts to an act of legal maneuvering by the prosecutor’s office to avoid having a judge address the defense’s motion to dismiss, which was set for Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Hutton, appearing via video from Yakima, said, “It’s unclear to me that Mr. Moore has the financial means to return to California, but I agree with Ms. Hunt that that’s not necessarily the basis for continuing his confinement. He does appear to have significant contacts with Orange County, California.”

A new bail hearing is set for Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Murder charges against Stark’s boyfriend dropped

Charges against the married boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye Stark have been dropped at the request of the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.

Brian L. Moore, 43, is being held in Spokane County Jail on federal weapons charges that were filed late last week.

The state expects to re-file charges against Moore once the federal charges are addressed, according to court papers filed Sept. 10.

The dismissal of the charges, requested by Mark Cipolla, halts a hearing that was scheduled for this Thursday in which a judge was to rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss.

By making the request himself, Cipolla made it so the charges were dismissed without prejudice instead of with prejudice, meaning prosecutors can refile and not evoke double jeopardy.

The move basically gives the prosecution time to address what the defense had said was a lack of evidence to support first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore, who was arrested in April.

The prosecution’s case had suffered a blow when a judge wouldn’t allow prosecutors to have material from Moore’s private investigator that had been included in Stark’s case.

Public defender Jeff Compton’s motion to dismiss was based partly on that ruling. (Read about it here.)

A grand jury indictment filed Friday in Eastern Washington District Court charges Moore with two counts of possession of an unregistered firearm in connection with a rifle and firearm silencer on a pistol seized from a warehouse where he was staying in Orange County, Calif.

His bail hearing is set for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

Hearing delayed for killer’s boyfriend

Brian Moore’s big day will have to wait.

A hearing on a motion to dismiss murder charges against Moore, accused of helping Shellye Stark kill her husband, was delayed today because the prosecutor is having hip surgery. 
Judge Sam Cozza set the new hearing for Sept. 17.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla appeared on behalf of Larry Haskell. Moore was in court in a blue jail jumper but said nothing during the short hearing. 

As he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, he said hi to Stark’s sister, Donna Haggerty.
 
“Love you sweetie. Be good,” Haggerty said. 

“Love ya honey,” Moore said.

Spokane police traveled to Orange County, Calif., in April and arrested Moore on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of Dale Stark. 

Detectives don’t believe Moore was in Spokane when Shellye shot Dale, rather they allege he plotted the murder with Shellye and helped her concoct a sordid tale of spousal abuse in a failed attempt to dupe authorities into thinking the killing was in self defense.

Read past coverage here.

Big day tomorrow for killer’s boyfriend

Will the charges against the boyfriend of the woman convicted of killing her husband stand?

We’ll find out tomorrow in Spokane County Superior Court.

Lawyers in the Brian L. Moore case are set to argue a motion to dismiss first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Moore.

Moore is accused of helping Shellye L. Stark plan her husband’s murder, then concocting a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe authorities into thinking the slaying was self defense.

Moore’s public defender, Jeff Compton, is asking that charges against Moore, who’s accused of helping Stark with the plan to kill her husband, be dismissed because of lack of evidence. Moore was arrested in California in April. (Read about it here.)

Private investigator Ted Pulver is considered a key witness against Moore, but a judge has denied prosecutor access to material regarding Pulver and Moore that had been part of Stark’s case.

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell has said he believes he still has a case. Judge Sam Cozza will preside over the motion hearing, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

Moore’s lawyer moves for dismissal of charges

 The prosecutor in the case against convicted killer Shellye L. Stark’s married boyfriend said after a judge denied him access to key witness material that he still has a case. (Read about that here.)

A judge will soon decide if that’s true.

Brian L. Moore’s lawyer is asking that charges against Moore, who’s accused of helping Stark with the plan to kill her husband, be dismissed because of lack of evidence.

Moore is being held in Spokane County Jail on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, accused of helping Stark plan her husband’s murder, then concocting a sordid tale of spousal abuse to try to dupe authorities into thinking the slaying was self defense.

A jury convicted Stark in March, and she’s serving 50 years in prison in Gig Harbor. Moore was arrested in California in April. (Read about it here.)

To hold Moore, prosecutors must show that there’s probable cause to believe he committed the crime.

Moore’s public defender, Jeff Compton, argues in a motion to dismiss that there’s just not enough evidence to keep Moore behind bars. His reasoning centers on a court decision July 30 regarding crucial material to the state’s case: investigative material from Ted Pulver, a private eye hired by Moore and Stark who went to police with his concerns.

“The defense is aware of no authority which allows a defendant to be held on probable cause based on information the State plans to develop,” Compton wrote. “Either the state has evidence which constitutes probable cause or it does not. The recent ruling concerning the evidence makes it clear the State does not have the evidence and may never get the evidence.”

Ouch! Read the motion here.

Included with it was a copy of Moore’s probable cause affidavit, which is probably the seediest court document I’ve ever read. Check it out here.

The state hasn’t filed its response yet.

As of now, the hearing is set for Thursday. Needless to say, stick with this blog for updates.

Courthouse watch: 7.30.09

No material from convicted killer Shellye Stark’s former lawyer’s files will go to prosecutors seeking a murder conviction against her married boyfriend  because the material could be critical to Stark’s appeal, a judge ruled today.

Spokane County Superior Judge Ellen Kalama Clark dodged a legal debate posed by state appeals lawyer Gregory Link and Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell when she declined to quash a subpoena that she herself had granted two weeks ago.

Instead of addressing the legality of the subpoena, she said she was quashing the subpoena because she’d seen the materials and had decided they couldn’t be used.

In her decision June 22, Clark had said she would sort through Russell Bradshaw’s files to see if there was information pertaining to Moore and private investigator Ted Pulver, the key witness in the case against Moore. Neither Haskell nor LInks has seen the material.

“I have an advantage over you gentlemen,” Clark said to Haskell and Links Thursday. “I have that infomation.”

By deeming all of the material too sensitive to Stark’s case to disclose, Clark avoided a legal debate about, essentially, a decision she’d already made -  whether material in one defendant’s case could be used in another’s.

She told the attorneys of her decisions after the debate because, “I wanted to hear what you had to say.” (Read a blog post about the legal filings here.)

Haskell said he believe the state’s case against Moore,  who’s accused of helping Stark with a plot to kill her husband, then of concocting a sordid tale of abuse to dupe police into thinking the killing was in self defense.

“It’s not helpful, but it is what it is,” Haskell said. “I think he still have a case.”

Moore, who was arrested in Orange County April 27 in a story you can can read here, appeared in court with Link (Stark’s appellate attorney), and Moore’s public defender, Jeff Compton.

“Excellent job,” Moore told the lawyers after the hearing.

His trial is set for Oct. 26. 

Courthouse watch: 7.20.09

The legal saga continued today for a couple police believe plotted to murder the woman’s husband then concocted a sordid tale of abuse in an attempt to dupe investigators into thinking the killing was self-defense.

The state filed its response today in Spokane County Superior Court to a motion by Shellye L. Stark’s new appellate lawyers to quash a subpoena of Stark’s case file with lawyer Russell Bradshaw, whom she fired after her conviction.

Stark’s lawyers, Gregory C. Link and David L. Donnan, argued in a motion filed July 10 that the file is protected and shouldn’t be released.

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark ruled last month, as detailed in a blog post you can read here, that she would review the material and hand over anything having to do with the involvement of Stark’s boyfriend, Brian L. Moore, that was not relevant to Stark’s appeal to the state. The file contains crucial evidence for the state’s case against Moore, specifically statements he made to a private investigator, Ted Pulver, who has said he’ll work with the state but only under a subpoena.

The court allowed the file to be released because Bradshaw did not represent Moore, Starks’ lawyers wrote in the motion, which you can read here.

Under that logic, any time co-defendants are charged under different case numbers, they would be able to access each other’s case files, Stark’s lawyers argued in a motion filed July 10.

“That is a nonsensical distinction,” Starks’ lawyers wrote. “Instead, if the information would not have been available to the State had it sought it in Ms. Stark’s case, it does not become available merely because the State has sought it in a separate matter.”

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell filed his response today, citing two Washington state Supreme Court cases that he argues support Clark’s decision.

Read that response here.

A hearing is set for later this month.

‘I still represent her in spirit’

A judge will review conversations between a private investigator and a man accused of helping his girlfriend with a plan to kill her husband.

Judge Ellen Kalama Clark will decide what portions of Ted Pulver’s files to give to prosecutors seeking convictions for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder against Brian L. Moore, who is due in Spokane tonight and will appear in court Tuesday or Wednesday.

“I have significant concerns about how these statements might impact Ms. Stark’s issues,” Clark said, referring to Shellye L. Stark appealing her March conviction for murder and conspiracy to commit murder.”I don’t think I can just blankly order Mr. Bradshaw to hand over the materials because it could affect Ms. Stark.”

Clark’s ruling was in response to a motion to quash a state subpoena for Russell Bradshaw, Stark’s former lawyer, (shown above with Stark in December 2007) and Pulver, a private investigator hired by Moore.

Pulver is a key witness in the state case against Moore but has said he won’t testify or supply information without a court order.

Bradshaw filed the motion against the subpoena, claiming Pulver’s information is off limits under attorney-client privileges.

“It is my duty to protect those materials,” said Bradshaw, who was fired by Stark following the jury verdict, along with co-counsel Bryan Whitaker. “I still represent her in spirit.”

Clark will redact portions of the materials she deems crucial to Stark’s case, then hand over the information to the state.

Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell called it “incomprehensible” for Bradshaw to hold Pulver’s investigative materials.

Bradshaw said he’s simply doing his duty as a defense attorney. Bradshaw also said he didn’t know what was in the materials because he hadn’t looked them over yet.

Haskell and Deputy Prosecutor Mark Lindsay were overheard outside the courtroom discussing what Lindsay called a conspiracy to deprive the state of the documents, and questioning how lawyers could sit on information that could possibly even exonerate someone.

Read past coverage of the Stark case here.

Police search killer’s boyfriend’s computers

A search warrant filed this week regarding the Spokane police investigation into the boyfriend of convicted killer Shellye L. Stark reveals new details.

 

The day police arrested Brian L. Moore in Anahiem, Calif., on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder, a Post Falls private investigator Moore hired, Ted Pulver, gave detectives a zip drive that he said contained a conversation between Moore and Michael Kendall, Moore’s former Orange County business partner.

“Moore later filed an alleged extortion complaint against Kendall in an attempt to prevent Kendall from cooperating with the police investigation,” wrote Detective Kip Hollenbeck in the search warrant, which was filed Tuesday in Spokane County District Court. “Your affiant believes probable cause exists to search this zip drive to examine the contents for any evidence related to this investigation.”

Pulver (featured left in an April 2008 photo by the SR’s Kathy Plonka) and Kendall are witnesses in the case against Moore, who’s accused of helping Stark plan the Dec. 9, 2007, murder of her husband, Dale Robert Stark, then working with her to concoct a sordid tale of spousal abuse to support a self defense claim.

A jury rejected that claim after a two-week trial in March, and Stark was sentenced to 50 years in prison last month. She remains in Spokane County Jail.

Her new lawyer, Julie Twyford, filed a motion last week asking Judge Tari Eitzen to reconsider the length of Stark’s sentence and Eitzen’s past rejection of motions for a new trial and an arrest of judgment. Included with the filing is a declaration from inmate Christine W. Warman.

Warman said she was in a holding cell with Stark and four other inmates on April 30. After Stark left, one of the inmates said her father served on the Stark jury and said jurors discussed details of the case when they weren’t supposed to, Warman said.

The state has not yet filed a response to that motion. Once that happens, Eitzen will set a hearing to rule on the motion.

Stick with The Spokesman-Review for updates.

Update: the state filed a response this week, and it’s now in the online court system. Eitzen has a hearing set for 3 p.m.