A Jefferson County jury will decide Monday the fate of a man they found guilty of capital murder Friday afternoon.
After deliberating only a short time Friday, the jury of seven women and five men returned the guilty verdict in the case of Charles V. Moorman, 61, who had been accused of killing Eddie Smith Jr., while both were inmates at the Maximum Security Unit at Tucker Prison on Sept. 2, 2010.
Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis sent the jury home Friday afternoon, instructing them to return at 9 a.m. Monday for the punishment phase of the trial, which began Monday and included three days of jury selection. Testimony began Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Moorman, who at the time of the murder was serving a sentence of life without parole on three capital murder convictions, as well as first-degree murder and aggravated robbery convictions, all out of Pulaski County. The only other option for the jury would be to sentence Moorman to life in prison without parole.
Smith had also been serving a sentence of life without parole after being convicted of capital murder and kidnapping in Arkansas County.
On Thursday, testimony indicated that Smith had gone to the laundry room at the prison to pick up cleaning supplies and was standing in the doorway when Moorman came up behind him and stabbed him in the neck with a pocketknife.
“He (Moorman) and Smith had confrontations, they argued about something,” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau said during his closing argument Friday morning. “Charles Moorman had a knife and they don’t hand those out at the commissary.”
Testimony from prison officials also indicated that Smith and Moorman had been involved in some type of confrontation in the prison dining hall on Aug. 4, and Juneau made reference to that, saying “Moorman told the warden to ‘watch the video and you’ll know why I did it.’”
Juneau, Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter and Deputy Prosecutor Jill Reed are representing the state in the trial.
“This case is all about intent,” attorney Chris Hayes from the Public Defender’s Office said during his closing argument. “There’s little dispute, if any, that the death (of Smith) was the result of actions by Shaheed (as Moorman is now known).”
Hayes, who with attorney John Cone is representing Moorman, said his client did not intend to kill Smith.
“Shaheed and Smith did not get along,” Hayes said. “Sometimes inmates take matters into their own hands. Sometimes inmates get cut but the warden said he couldn’t remember the last homicide at Tucker and there was no evidence he (Moorman) planned this.”
Explaining that the prison has disciplinary policies that include putting inmates who get into disputes into isolation, Hayes said “Shaheed was just trying to make a point that an older, smaller, less muscular man could get taken away from a younger, bigger, and stronger man (by being put in isolation).”
Hayes said the incident was not planned murder but “planned injury. This was second-degree murder.”
The legal definition of second-degree murder is that “with the purpose of causing serious physical injury, you cause the death of someone.”
Rebutting Hayes’ arguments, Juneau said Moorman had never filed complaints with prison officials about the disputes he was having with Smith.
“He may have planned for this to be a serious physical injury but it resulted in a death, and that’s a plan,” Juneau said.