Paul Moses

Questions re. Moses:
a) Where in NH was he born and when did he live in the state?
"He goes on to claim during the interview that he was born in New Hampshire and lived in Spokane, Washington, for years beginning in the 1980s."

 Murder trial defendant denies ever having been in Joplin  

Joplin Globe  Aug 18, 2016     Jeff Lehr

Paul Moses told a Joplin police officer who went to California to question him three years ago about the 1984 cold case murder of Frances Ramsey that there was no way he killed her.

"Joplin, Missouri? I don't think I've ever been there, sir, " Moses said with apparent surprise when Detective Larry Swinehart told him who he was and how far he'd come to interview him at the jail in San Diego.

Moses stuck to that claim throughout the 2013 interview, an audiotape of which the prosecution played for jurors Thursday on the first day of testimony at the 67-year-old defendant's trial in Jasper County Circuit Court on a charge of capital murder in the rape and beating death of Ramsey, 62, of Joplin.

"Can you explain how your fingerprints got there then?" Swinehart asked.

Moses claimed that he had no idea.

"They shouldn't be there because I wasn't there," he said.

During opening statements, Assistant Prosecutor Theresa Kenney told jurors that the state would present evidence that Ramsey was found beaten to death Aug. 11, 1984, inside the south half of a duplex at 2337 S. Main St. that was undergoing some remodeling at the time.

Moses, a transient who had been hired to do some work there for a couple days earlier the same week, was seen sitting on the porch of that side of the duplex the afternoon of Aug. 10, Kenney told the jury.

She said police found a wallet near Ramsey's nude body that contained the blood donor card of Moses and a scratch-off ticket from a McDonald's restaurant promotion that bore his fingerprint.

According to Kenney, vaginal swabs obtained from the victim in 1984 proved to be "consistent" with the DNA profile of Moses derived from a cheek swab Swinehart obtained from him 29 years after the slaying. She said an expert will testify that there is no better than a 1 in 16 trillion chance of that DNA matching anyone other than Moses.

Kenney told jurors the evidence the state plans to present will show that Moses beat Ramsey to death with a scoop shovel found broken and bloodstained at the scene. He then fled, leaving behind his wallet, his fingerprints and his DNA, she said. Police efforts to find Moses failed for 29 years until he was arrested three years ago when he applied for Social Security benefits in California using his real name.

"Finally, his past has caught up with him," Kenney said.

Public defender Larry Maples called attention during opening statements to a partial DNA profile of another man developed from scrapings of the victim's fingernails. He said there was not enough DNA for tests to determine whose DNA it was.

"But (the defense expert who tested the material) was able to develop enough to say it was not Paul Moses' DNA," Maples said.

Maples suggested that evidence collection methods 32 years ago left much to be desired. He said detectives did not even wear gloves, increasing the chances for contamination of evidence such as DNA. He said the DNA test that the state believes ties Moses to the crime used just 12 of 16 loci. If a 13th could have been included, it might have excluded his client, Maples said, since it takes just one inconsistent locus to eliminate a suspect.

The first witness called by the state was Lynn Hines, who lived in the other half of the duplex where the body was found when she was 25 years old. Hines told how her home was burglarized the night of Aug. 10. She returned from doing her laundry and noticed her bedroom television missing and a gaping hole that had knocked out of a shared wall of the two halves of the duplex.

She called police. They came and checked out the burglary. There was no body next door at that time, Hines said. She spent the night at her parents, and when she returned the next morning with her mother, her front door was standing wide open.

Somebody had been back inside. This time a larger color television had been stolen, some of her clothes were strewn about the floor and a faucet left running in the kitchen. Two shirts and a sweater on the floor were covered with brown stains of some sort.

When she went to shut off the faucet, she happened to glance through the hole that was knocked in the wall in the course of the prior break-in and saw someone lying on the floor in the half of the duplex undergoing remodeling.

"It remains to this day the most traumatic thing I ever saw," Hines told the court. 

 The shocking sight proved to be Ramsey's beaten body.

"She was naked except for her shoes, and her face had been beaten flat," said Steve Rogers, a former detective with the Joplin Police Department involved in the original investigation of Ramsey's death, when he was called to the witness stand.

Rogers helped the prosecution introduce into evidence various items found at the murder scene as well as photographs. Those photos showed how the victim was lying alongside a sheet of drywall left leaning against some wall framing. There was a large pool of blood beneath her head.

The broken scoop shovel, a red bandanna and a blue nylon wallet lay near the body. Her clothes appeared to have been folded and left nearby with her purse placed on top of her blouse, which bore extensive bloodstains. She still had a single shoe on, the other lay near her bare foot. There was severe damage to her face, impact marks on her chest and disfigurement of a hand.

"You can see the beating she took from that scoop shovel," Rogers told jurors as the photos were shown them.

Danny Muench, the contractor who was doing the remodeling for the duplex owner, testified that he hired a man named Paul Moses to help on the job for a couple of days early in the week. He identified a photo that Assistant Prosecutor Norman Rouse showed him as the man he hired.

The photo appeared to be of the same man and to be the same picture of that man depicted in a photo on an identification card that Rogers testified was inside the blue nylon wallet discovered at the murder scene.

Swinehart testified that he showed the same photo to Moses three years ago in California.
"His initial response was: 'Yes, that's me,'" Swinehart said. "Then he recanted and said no, that's not him."

During his cross-examination of Swinehart, Maples attempted to explain his client's claims to the detective that he had never been in Joplin as a failure of memory. He pointed out that on more than one occasion in the interview Moses said he could not remember ever having been in Joplin.

He goes on to claim during the interview that he was born in New Hampshire and lived in Spokane, Washington, for years beginning in the 1980s. He further claimed to have lived with a woman named Jessie Blair, whom he met at a truck stop in California, until she died of cancer, infection and pneumonia.

But Swinehart had to press Moses to get the name of the woman from him as well as the name of a woman he told the detective was her sole surviving child. Swinehart told the court that he tried to call that woman in Spokane but was never able to reach her and confirm the defendant's story.

Throughout the interview, Moses would not explain how he came to be on the West Coast or where he had lived previously. And he repeatedly denied ever having been in Joplin.

Under direct examination by Rouse, Muench could not recall seeing Moses on the porch of the duplex the day before the body was discovered. But Rogers testified that Muench told him 32 years ago that he saw Moses sitting on the porch about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10, which was a couple of days after he'd stopped working for him.

A DNA profiler is expected to testify for the prosecution when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. today in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin.

Ring finger
A fingerprint criminalist formerly with the Missouri State Highway Patrol testified by videotaped deposition Thursday that she was able to make a positive left ring finger identification of Paul Moses with a latent print found on a scratch-off game card found inside a wallet left at the scene of Frances Ramsey's slaying.


UPDATED: Mistrial declared in 32-year-old murder case       Jeff Lehr  Aug 19, 2016

Circuit Judge David Mouton declared a mistrial Friday in the murder trial of Paul Moses because of concerns with jurors having seen or heard indications that the defendant is in custody.

Public defender Larry Maples asked the judge to declare a mistrial after Moses was escorted by a uniformed and armed deputy down a hallway to the courtroom before the start of proceedings on the third day of his trial in the 1984 slaying of 62-year-old Joplin resident Frances Ramsey.

Moses was being brought from a holding room for in-custody defendants to the trial's courtroom on the same floor. There were some members of the jury waiting in the hallway and others were in a jury assembly room with the door to the hallway standing open.

"The two of them walked right by," Maples said of the deputy's escort of his client past jurors.
He told the judge that an inference that Moses was in custody would have been inescapable to those jurors. The judge initially expressed some skepticism that it would have been obvious because Moses was in street clothes and not wearing restraints.

Maples brought it to the judge's attention that jurors just moments previously heard the bailiff call out to Maples twice as he was coming down the same hallway from the holding room where he had been conferring with Moses: "Is he coming?"

Maples said he did not answer the bailiff either time out of his concern about possibly prejudicing the jury. But again, he argued, jurors may well have reached a conclusion prejudicial to his client's right to a fair trial.

"We've taken great lengths to avoid the appearance that he is in custody," Maples said.

The judge reminded Maples that the court had issued the order allowing Moses to appear at trial in street clothes without the defense actually having filed a motion requesting as much. He also noted that the courts building's space, design and security pose difficulties in avoiding the appearance that a defendant is in custody.

Maples agreed but suggested the existence of those limitations does not change what happened.
"I don't think there's any other cure than a mistrial," he said.

In response the judge acknowledged that, as he arrived at the courts building that morning, he spotted a deputy bringing the defendant in wearing restraints and wondered if any jurors might have witnessed that as well.

After allowing Maples an opportunity to make sure that a mistrial was agreeable to his client, Mouton made the ruling that appears likely to set the trial of the 32-year-old cold case back until sometime next year. The judge and attorneys discussed possible trial dates after the first of next year but decided to postpone setting a date until the parties have had more time to consult their individual commitments.

State's case
Prosecutors had finished presenting much of the state's case against Paul Moses when concerns with jurors' perceptions of the defendant's custody status led to a mistrial. The scuttling of the trial came before testimony regarding DNA evidence could be offered.


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