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MCI inmate convicted in 1979 escape attempt seeking new trial

January 04, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A man who attempted a violent escape from the Washington County Courthouse in 1979 was back in one of its courtrooms Thursday afternoon.

James E. Moore was convicted in 1982 of trying to maim a Maryland Correctional Institution correctional officer during the escape attempt, according to Herald-Mail reports.

On Thursday, Moore was scheduled for a hearing for post conviction relief. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Scott Whitney, in December 2007 filed a petition asking for a new trial in Moore's case.

Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. recused himself from the hearing at Whitney's request, and continued the hearing.

Long, while serving as an Assistant State's Attorney, twice prosecuted Moore, the judge said.

According to the state's evidence presented at trial in 1982, Moore was at the courthouse along with another inmate to testify as a defense witness in his brother's trial. Moore was not called to testify, but was detained with another inmate, George Brown, for about eight hours.

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Correctional officer Terry Marshall was escorting both to an elevator when he watched Brown attack another officer, The Herald-Mail reported.

Moore then grabbed Marshall's .39-caliber revolver and shoved the handgun in Correctional Officer Ricky Niekirk's stomach when a second officer, Randy Grove, jumped Moore from behind and placed his thumb between the hammer and chamber to prevent the gun from firing, The Herald-Mail reported.

Moore had twice been found guilty in the escape attempt, but the first sentence, imposed in 1979 by Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright, was overturned by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on a legal technicality.

Whitney alleged in his motion for relief that the presiding judge at the 1982 trial issued inadequate jury instructions to the jury, which took about 20 minutes to convict Moore.

Whitney also alleged in the motion that Moore's defense attorney in the 1982 trial was ineffective because the attorney did not object to what Whitney characterized as "improper" jury instructions.

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