Florida Lotto Murder Trial: Judge Orders Escorts for Jittery Jurors
(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The jurors hearing the murder trial of DeeDee Moore, the Florida woman accused of killing lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare, will be accompanied by a security escort into the courtroom after they told the judge that a witness and Shakespeare's family and friends were making them feel uncomfortable outside the courthouse.
Prosecutors say that Moore, 40, befriended Shakespeare, who disappeared in April 2009, after he won $30 million in the Florida lottery. After Shakespeare burned through most of the money, Moore agreed to manage the little he had left, but instead, prosecutors say, she stole his money and killed him.
Moore has denied the charges.
Two jurors identified witness Greg Smith, a former friend of Shakespeare, 47, and supposed friend of Moore, as the person they said made them feel uncomfortable in the parking garage after Friday's session. A third juror said some members of the gallery made her feel uncomfortable.
In court, Tampa, Fla., Judge Emmett Battles asked a juror whether the perception that she had been stared down by the witness and Shakespeare's friends and family would affect her ability to be fair and impartial in the case.
"No, I just want to feel safe," the juror said.
None of the jurors have been excused by the judge.
On Monday, the jurors focused on a rambling two-page letter that Smith, a police informant, says Moore allegedly forged while at a Comfort Inn & Suites in Lakeland, Fla., which was meant to appear to be from Shakespeare, prosecutors say. They say the letter was a ruse to convince Shakespeare's mother that he was still alive. Moore attempted to cover her tracks while it was written, according to prosecutors.
"She had a brand-new laptop, set up and a printer, [and] she had a rubber-type gloves on," Smith testified. "And a scarf pullover-type thing over her head."
Smith testified that he was informing police of his interactions with Moore as he pretended to help her create the illusion that Shakespeare was still alive. In court, Smith read in its entirety the letter that prosecutors say Moore forged.
"Don't worry about Dee," the letter read. "There are too many people that know I left. I gave her enough money … she would not take anything from me unless I agreed."
At one point in the motel room, which had been wired for audio by police, Moore said, "This letter will buy me time to go to Miami before I get arrested."
Shortly after the letter was written, Shakespeare's body was found buried under a slab of concrete in Moore's backyard.
Jurors on Monday also listened to a recorded conversation in which Moore admitted she was afraid of being arrested. She had the conversation with Smith as she drove him to Shakespeare's mother's house to drop off the letter.
Moore maintains her innocence, saying she was trying to help Shakespeare collect unpaid debts and protect him from the many people trying to take advantage of him. Her defense attorneys have argued that the evidence against her is circumstantial, and that Moore's gun might have been used to shoot Shakespeare, but noted that ballistics tests were incomplete.
Prosecutors are not pursuing the death penalty in the case. If Moore is convicted, she faces life in prison.
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