Friday, November 30, 2012
Woman on trial in killing of Florida lottery winner
Abraham Shakespeare could barely read, wrote his name in block letters and had given away most of his $17 million in lottery winnings when he became friends with Dorice "Dee Dee" Moore, a calculating woman who later became his financial adviser, prosecutors said Wednesday.
During opening statements in Moore's first-degree murder trial in Tampa, assistant state attorney Jay Pruner said Moore swindled what was left of Shakespeare's winnings from his bank account in 2009, then killed him and buried his body under a concrete slab in her backyard.
Pruner said when Shakespeare won the lottery, his life "drastically and dramatically changed" — and that the money caused all sorts of problems, eventually leading to his death. One detective testified that Moore told him that Shakespeare was tired of people asking him for money.
Moore, 40, wore a yellow button-down blouse and black pants to court, and her long, curly hair framed her face as she highlighted notes with a yellow marker during Wednesday's trial.
Her attorney, Byron Hileman, said there is no evidence that ties his client to the gun used to shoot Shakespeare.
"There are no eyewitnesses who can testify that Ms. Moore shot and killed Mr. Shakespeare or was present when he was shot and killed or had any part carrying out his murder," Hileman said, adding that the evidence against Moore is mostly circumstantial.
Later in the day, witnesses included two investigators from the county medical examiner's office and a sheriff's detective.
Dr. Dollette White, the assistant medical examiner that worked on Shakespeare's autopsy, said his body was "mummified" and partially skeletonized. She said his body had been underground for a few months, but it was difficult to pinpoint exactly how long based on decomposition.
White also said that two bullets were recovered from Shakespeare's body, both lodged near his spine and heart. X-rays of Shakespeare's chest were shown to the jury.
Both attorneys agreed on one thing: that by the time Shakespeare and Moore met, the man had already spent or given away most of his lottery winnings. Friends and acquaintances owed him millions of dollars, the lawyers said, and Pruner called him a "soft touch."
Moore befriended Shakespeare in late 2008, claiming she was writing a book "about how people were taking advantage of him," said Pruner.
Prosecutors said Moore became his financial adviser, eventually controlling every asset he had left, including an expensive home, the debt owed to him and a $1.5 million annuity. Pruner said that during the trial, he will prove that Moore shifted money from Shakespeare's bank accounts to her own, and that she formed a company in his name — yet didn't allow him to withdraw money from the bank account attached to that company.
In April 2009, Shakespeare disappeared. Pruner said he was shot, killed and buried under a 30-by-30-foot concrete slab in the back of Moore's home.
Family didn't report him missing for seven months. During that time, Pruner said Moore simultaneously lied to Shakespeare's friends and family about seeing him around town while trying to pay others to say they had spotted him.
Pruner said she enlisted one of Shakespeare's friends, Greg Smith, to deliver a typed letter to Shakespeare's mother, ostensibly from Shakespeare — even though he was barely literate.
Smith is expected to take the witness stand because he became a confidential informant and recorded numerous conversations and meetings with Moore — who told police various stories about her relationship with Shakespeare and his disappearance.
In January 2010, investigators searched Moore's property and found Shakespeare's body.
Moore's attorney acknowledged that "we certainly would agree that Ms. Moore had some knowledge that something happened," and told a story about a meeting involving Shakespeare and a couple of guys at Moore's home.
"The fact is that something happened," said Hileman. "Ms. Moore may have suspected something happened but she was not an eyewitness to details."
The trial is expected to last two weeks.