Family drama exposed in bombing trial, prosecution says in closing argument
SACRAMENTO — Prosecutor David Druliner admitted to jurors that the three week-long murder trial involving the heirs of rice farmers in Colusa County has "taken on a soap opera quality."
"(It's) Like 'Dallas' or 'Dynasty,' with lots of in-fighting in the family," he said during his closing argument on Thursday.
Paul Moore is being tried for the murder of Moore Bros. farm foreman Roberto Ayala, who was killed by a victim-triggered bomb when he opened the power panel for a water pump on a ricefield south of Colusa on July 16, 2011.
Ayala had gone to the farm with his son, Fabian, then 7, who witnessed his father's death and ran nearly two miles to get help. Fabian testified earlier in the Colusa County Superior Court trial that was moved to Sacramento.
After almost three weeks of witness testimony, jurors heard closing arguments by Colusa County District Attorney John Poyner and defense attorney Linda Parisi on Thursday. Prosecutor David Druliner began his rebuttal and is expected to complete his final argument on Monday.
"The killer, this man here, is really, really clever," Druliner said of Moore.
He is the son of Roger Moore, who co-owns the 1,800 acre family farm with his brother, Gus Moore.
Roger Moore testified that he planned to share his half of the farm with his son, but that Paul Moore would have to work his way up in an effort to build respect from the employees, a situation that Druliner implied Paul Moore resented.
Parisi argued that Gus Moore's son, Peter Moore, is responsible for the bombing death.
Peter Moore hasn't worked on the farm in more than 20 years and testified that he and his father hate each other.
Parisi said Peter Moore is the one with a motive and he was the one who hated Ayala.
"(Ayala) had taken his father, taken his place on the farm and now taken his inheritance," Parisi said.
She said Paul Moore is in a different place with the family farm than Peter Moore.
"Paul Moore is on the farm, Paul Moore has his father and he is back on the ranch," she said.
Druliner urged the jurors to ask themselves who benefit from Ayala's death.
"Would Paul benefit from Roberto Ayala's death? Yes. But, Peter doesn't at all. For Paul, he kills Roberto and Roberto is out of his way," he said.
BREAKOUT: Evidence indirect or circumstantial
The prosecution's case relies on indirect, or circumstantial, evidence, with particular focus on two letters.
A month after Ayala was murdered, the Colusa County Sheriff's Department received two letters labeled with a label maker as "Ayala Case" and claiming to be from a professional hitman responsible for the bombing. The second letter contained a diagram of a bomb that matches the device that killed Ayala.
A search of Paul Moore's home recovered a piece of paper with an indentation of the bomb diagram — as if it were stacked under another sheet of paper on which the diagram was drawn — a printer and a Brother brand label maker.
Prosecutors brought in expert witnesses, including forensics specialists from the U.S. Secret Service, which tied Paul Moore to those letters.
"Everything was positively linked to Paul Moore, or was indistinguishable. Nothing was linked to Peter Moore," Poyner said.
Parisi said, "Given the circumstantial evidence, there are several possibilities" and "Peter is a clever man."
"There's just poor Peter, 'sorry about what I said,' well that's just one Peter. We also see the Pete Moore that makes threats," Parisi said referencing the characterization of him as a "loud mouth" and a list of witness testimony that he threatened people.
She argued that Peter Moore planted the indented diagram in Paul Moore's house and that possibility is a reasonable inference.
"You must reject the inference that points towards guilt and adopt the evidence that point toward innocence. ...One of the reasonable inferences is it could be Paul Moore. Another reasonable inference, is it wasn't," Parisi said.