PRINCETON — A verdict was overturned and motion for a new trial was granted Tuesday for a mother and father who were convicted last year of murder by a parent, guardian or custodian in the death of their 20-month-old son.
Corey Steven Moore, 30, and Christy Ann Moore, 28, of Princeton appeared by videoconference from the Southern Regional Jail for a motions hearing and possible sentencing before Circuit Court Judge Mark Wills.
The father and mother were arrested after their malnourished and underweight 20-month-old son, Jeremiah, died shortly after being taken to the Princeton Community Hospital ER on Nov. 8, 2018.
They were convicted on Nov. 6, 2019 of murder of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian, and of child neglect resulting in death. The murder charge carries a sentence of life in prison, and the child neglect charge has a sentence of three to 15 years in prison.
Wearing masks and sitting 6 feet apart, the Moores listened as Circuit Court Judge Mark Wills ruled on their attorneys’ motion for a new trial. Wills presided over their November 2019 trial.
“The Moores have been convicted of the murder of their infant child,” Wills said, adding it was the sort of case which keeps him up at night, thinking about what happened and what was pending before the court.
Wills spoke of a motto which can be seen in the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge William Sadler: “To No One Will We Delay Justice, To No One Will We Deny It.” The quote is from the Magna Carta.
“The Moores deserve justice, and so does their infant child,” Wills said.
In February, the couple’s attorneys made a motion for a new trial. If Wills had denied the motion Tuesday, the court was ready to proceed with sentencing. Wills said there was a problem with the jury’s verdict.
The jury found the husband and wife guilty of intentional acts resulting in their child’s death and negligent acts resulting in death.
“That verdict is legally inconsistent,” Wills said. ‘It’s either one way or the other. Their actions either intentionally caused the death or negligently caused the death.”
Wills pointed out portraits in his courtroom of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman. When Truman was president, his motto was “The buck stops here.”
“In this case, the buck stops in this courtroom,” Wills said. “The jury did not do anything wrong. The court, meaning me, should have instructed the jury as follows: that the Moores could be found guilty of intentional acts or guilty of the death of their son through negligent acts, or they could be found not guilty.”
Wills said he must overturn the verdict and grant Corey and Christy Moore a new trial.
A new trial was set for October. Corey and Christy Moore remain at the regional jail.
Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline. com