Jurors hear police interview of Chester murder suspect
Swearing on the lives of his mother, niece and family, Chris Moore told investigators in a recorded interview that he had nothing to do with the 2014 killing of Odell Williams.
Swearing on a Bible and taking the stand in his own defense Thursday, Moore told jurors a different story.
Moore’s promise on the lives of his loved ones came while making a statement to a Chester County sheriff’s investigator after his arrest in connection with Williams’ killing. A portion of the interview was played in court Thursday for jurors in Moore’s murder trial.
“I wasn’t there,” Moore told Detective Chris Reynolds in 2014. “I ain’t had nothing to do with it.”
Moore, who is charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, repeatedly denied any involvement in Williams’ death while speaking with Reynolds. He said he had been at Roundtree Circle earlier in the evening on Nov. 4, 2014, but that he was in Rock Hill when Williams was gunned down.
“I swear on my mama, on my life, on my niece and my family, I had nothing to do with it,” he said. “I swear, I swear, I swear I had nothing to do with it.”
Reynolds told jurors that Moore got his attention while he was at the jail on an unrelated matter and asked to speak with him. Near the end of the portion played for jurors, Moore began raising his voice and told the detectives to take him back to his cell.
“I don’t want to talk to y’all no more since y’all trying to make it seem like I’m lying,” he said. “If I go in here for 30 years I’ll do it, but God’s gonna be with me because I know for a fact I had nothing to do with it. God’s gonna see me through it.”
On the stand Thursday, Moore admitted to being in the gold Dodge Ram that night with his four co-defendants, all of whom were armed, and said they had planned to go to a friend’s house to smoke marijuana after a would-be robbery fell through. He testified at the beginning of the trial, and while the jury was not present, during a defense hearing seeking immunity under South Carolina’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which Circuit Court Judge Paul Burch denied.
Moore on Thursday testified to hearing gunshots as a burgundy Cadillac pursued him and the co-defendants in their vehicle across Chester, and that the plan was to ditch the truck on Roundtree Circle and scatter. Fearing getting caught with the gun, Moore, who was on probation at the time, said he liked the SKS rifle and “didn’t want to lose it,” so he wanted to drop it on Roundtree Circle because he was familiar with the area and wanted to return later to get the gun.
Moore said he opened the truck’s door when driver Quinton McClinton slowed down, but McClinton hit the gas when he saw Williams’ Cadillac getting closer, causing Moore to fall from the truck and the rifle to fire once.
The truck continued on, Moore said, leaving him lying in the road. Moore said he saw and heard Williams’ car getting closer and started running through a yard on Roundtree, at which point he heard two more gunshots.
“I shot back,” he said, adding “a bunch of times.”
Testimony earlier in the trial revealed Moore fired the rifle 18 times. He said Thursday that he fired the gun over his back.
“I thought my life was in danger,” he said during questioning by his attorney, William Frick. “I had to defend my life.”
During cross-examination, Assistant Solicitor Riley Maxwell was skeptical of how Moore was able to shoot Williams in the head while running away. Moore said he had shot the gun before in the country but maintained he didn’t know where it came from or how he came to be holding it the night of the shooting.
“You were able to hit Mr. Williams’ car, without looking, six times?” Maxwell asked.
“Yes sir,” Moore said.
Moore told Frick that he lied to investigators and was worried about facing a murder charge if he admitted to shooting Williams, even if it was in self-defense.
He later told Frick he thinks about the shooting every night, and that he didn’t intend to shoot Williams.
“I just wish I could trade my life for his life,” he said.
Closing arguments are set to begin at 9 a.m. Friday.