Inmate set to die for killing 2 outside bar

January 20, 2009 9:25:32 AM PST
Frank Moore readily admits gunning down two people outside a San Antonio bar but insists he doesn't deserve to die this week for the shootings. "These guys tried to run over me and kill me," he said from a tiny visiting cage outside Texas death row. "I've never denied killing them. It was self-defense."

Bexar County jurors didn't agree. Moore, 47, was set for lethal injection Wednesday evening, 15 years to the day since Samuel Boyd, 23, and Patrick Clark, 15, were killed in a hail of gunfire outside the Wheels of Joy Club in San Antonio.

Moore would be the second Texas prisoner put to death this year and the first of two set to die on consecutive evenings this week in Huntsville. Thursday, Reginald Perkins was scheduled to follow him to the death chamber for the 2000 slaying of his stepmother in Fort Worth.

Another three inmates are set to die next week in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

Moore had several appeals in the courts bolstered by affidavits his attorneys recently obtained from eyewitnesses who supported Moore's assertion the shootings were in self-defense. His lawyers also sought to delay the execution for 30 days because the federal courts in Washington were closed Tuesday for Barack Obama's inauguration as president.

"We think that Frank deserves consideration by the various courts reviewing his case," said Moore's lawyer, David Sergi. "Setting it off till 30 days after the inauguration might not be a bad idea."

Testimony showed Boyd and Clark got into a fight with Moore and his half-brother, that Boyd and Clark then got into a car and tried to run them over. One of Moore's friends tossed him a rifle from the trunk of a nearby car and he opened fire.

Then he drove away.

"These guys tried to shoot me earlier that day," Moore said from prison.

"That car and those two kids, they were turned into Swiss cheese," recalled Pat Moran, one of Moore's trial lawyers. "That was always the dilemma. Prosecutors kept saying: 'You've got a lot of self-defense bullet holes to explain.' It was just the degree of overkill that was kind of shocking."

Moore already had an extensive criminal record when charged with capital murder for the double shooting. He denied in an interview last week that he'd long been an active member of several violent gangs, as authorities contended.

"I don't know where they got that from," he said. "You can't be in three different gangs."

According to court documents, Moore belonged to the East Terrace Gangsters, who took their name from a San Antonio public housing project, and was a "sergeant-at-arms" for the Black Panthers, responsible for obtaining, hiding and distributing weapons. The court file also said while Moore was locked up, he took an active role in a race riot, attacked a guard, had other incidents of violence and had been a member of the Crips gang since he was 14.

From death row, Moore said he joined the Crips in California but said it was a way of life for teens in his neighborhood.

Moore first went to prison in 1984 on a five-year sentence for attempted murder. He was released on mandatory supervision less than two years later, then was returned to prison as a violator within nine months. He was discharged in 1989.

In 1991, he got an eight-year term for cocaine possession but was paroled after just four months. He returned to prison in five months with a 20-year sentence for delivery of cocaine but was paroled after about two years. The double slaying occurred about 10 weeks later.

"There has never been any doubt in my mind if was self-defense," Moran said. "The problem was, Frank was a multiple-convicted felon and Frank couldn't be around firearms. There was no way to put on a defense to explain why those two kids who thought they were getting the drop on Frank walked into such an effective and efficient execution."

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out Moore's first conviction in 1998 because jurors weren't allowed to consider lesser charges. He was retried the following year and convicted and condemned again.

"He deserved it, all the way," said Jim Wheat, the district attorney at Moore's second trial. "Frank just did it out of pride to show how big he was on the east side (of San Antonio). He blew them away."

During the punishment phase of his trials, prosecutors showed when Moore was arrested three days after the slayings, he'd just been arrested for an unrelated crime and was found carrying a revolver in his waistband. Less than a month before the killings, he was arrested for selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer.

"I sold drugs," Moore said from death row. "But drug dealing is not a capital case.

"It's like a vicious circle. I'm fighting for my life when I got this case and now I'm fighting for my life again."

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