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Farm bombing victim's brother struggles to cope; Paul Moore to be sentenced Friday
Eduardo Ayala said he was cautious as he worked side by side with Paul Moore.
It was in the summer and fall of 2011 — the months following the murder of Ayala's brother, Roberto.
"That was hard, extremely hard," Eduardo Ayala said. "Looking over my shoulder, trying to look after Jesus (Roberto's oldest son), while Jesus worked on the ranch, knowing Paul was a suspect, working right next to him."
Paul Moore, 49, was convicted on Aug. 23 of murdering Roberto Ayala with a victim-triggered bomb on July 16, 2011. Moore's sentencing is scheduled for Friday in Colusa County Superior Court. He faces life without parole. "It was a first degree murder and with the special circumstance (use of a bomb) that is the sentence," said Colusa District Attorney John Poyner.
Poyner decided to not seek the death penalty in this case. "The family wasn't pushing the issue for one, and let's be honest, California's not executing anybody," he said.
Roberto Ayala, 43 at the time of his death, triggered the bomb that killed him when he opened a power panel for a rice field water pump. His 7-year-old son, Fabian, was sitting in a pickup just feet away from the panel — the explosion shattered the truck's windows. The uninjured boy saw his father on fire and ran two miles to the nearest home for help.
Roberto Ayala was foreman on Moore Bros. Farms. He is survived by his wife, Fabiola, his sons Jesus and Fabian, and his daughter, Paula.
Paul Moore is the son of Roger Moore, who co-owns the 1,800-acre family farm with his brother, Gus Moore.
Since the explosion, Eduardo Ayala has assumed many of his brother's responsibilities, and that takes him back to the site of his brother's death a few times every week. Pieces of the shattered glass can still be seen amongst the dried grass by the new power panel and the memorial for Roberto Ayala placed beside the 2047 Canal.
"Everything I've done since my brother died was for him. It's been hard, but I've done it," Eduardo Ayala said. "I never knew anything about farming. I just took orders. I didn't know how much I was picking up from him."
He said his brother was extremely skilled and people respected him.
"He was masterful," Eduardo Ayala said of Roberto. "I think that's part of the problem." He thinks the close relationship that the Roberto Ayala had with brothers Gus and Roger Moore might have been a factor motivating Paul Moore in the murder.
"He was jealous; it's all I can think of," Eduardo Ayala said. "Jealous my brother was in good with Gus. Paul knew that Gus and Roger would not force out Roberto so he could go and take over."
That relationship is the main reason Eduardo Ayala continues to work with the Moore family.
"Roger's been awesome. He's understood my position and I've understood his, and we've respected each other," Eduardo Ayala said.
He said that for months after the incident, they didn't speak of the explosion but respected each other's situation.
"I don't know who it is worse for, me or Roger. We're both hurting," Eduardo Ayala said. "It makes me feel bad that he had to live through that. He didn't deserve to live through that."
Eduardo Ayala said he had faith in the investigation.
"I just wanted the truth. I had faith in everybody, not just the system. In my family and in Gus and Roger," he said.
After 27 months of investigation and legal proceedings, Eduardo Ayala is ready for the sentencing.
"I'm looking forward to what it feels like to have resolution," he said.