5th Man’s Trial in Slaying of Officer Ends in Mistrial

Times Staff Writer

The trial of the last of five defendants charged in the ambush slaying of a police detective ended Monday in a hung jury.

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz declared a mistrial on the charge of first-degree murder against Duane Moody, 31, after the jury announced that it was deadlocked, 10 to 2, in favor of acquitting the defendant.

The same jury last week acquitted Moody on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Moody was accused of supplying the weapon used to gun down Detective Thomas C. Williams, 40, as he picked up his son at a Canoga Park school in 1985. Authorities said Williams was slain in retaliation for his testimony in a robbery case.


Reviewing Case

Deputy Dist. Atty. Dino J. Fulgoni said prosecutors are reviewing trial transcripts, including the judge’s instructions to the jury, and will decide within the next few days whether to retry Moody on the murder charge.

Moody’s attorney, James Epstein, said he will move to have the case dismissed during a court appearance scheduled before Stoltz on April 3. To retry his client would “be a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Epstein said.

The same jury that failed to reach a verdict on the murder charge against Moody on March 8 acquitted Reecy Clem Cooper of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the same case. The jury also convicted Voltaire Williams, 26, no relation to the victim, of the conspiracy charge but found him not guilty of murder.

2 Other Convictions

In a separate trial last year, Daniel Jenkins, 33, and Rubin Antonio Moss, 26, were convicted of murdering the detective. In October, Jenkins, the accused triggerman and mastermind of the plot, was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Two months later, Moss, described by prosecutors as Jenkins’ “loyal lieutenant,” received a sentence of life in prison.

Epstein admitted that his client furnished the gun that killed the officer but said that Moody did so because he was intimidated by Jenkins.

Earlier, Stoltz had suggested that the jury might consider a lesser charge of accessory to murder if they could not reach a verdict. But Fulgoni said his office would not consider that option, calling accessory to murder “a Mickey Mouse charge.”