LOCKPORT – Richard H. Moore, the North Carolina man accused of shooting a friend of his girlfriend to death in Niagara Falls earlier this year, rejected a plea offer Friday.
Assistant Public Defender A. Joseph Catalano said Moore, who is under indictment for second-degree murder, had been offered a chance to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
“He’s balking at it at the moment, but things change,” said Catalano. Another court date was set for Feb. 14 to give Moore time to contact his family to discuss the situation.
Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann confirmed the plea offer.
No sentencing commitment was included with the offer, Catalano said. The maximum sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 25 years in prison, while a murder conviction would mean that Moore could be sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years before he’s eligible for parole.
The plea offer was disclosed as Moore made a brief appearance before Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who had been warned earlier in the week that the Public Defender’s Office might have a conflict of interest that would force it to drop Moore as a client.
Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict had told Murphy that attorney Rodney Giove might be rejoining the public defender staff, and Giove had once represented a witness in the murder case in a civil court proceeding.
However, Catalano said Friday that the conflict wouldn’t crop up before Moore’ scheduled trial date April 7, if ever.
Moore, 50, of Winston-Salem, N.C., is charged with the Sept. 28 shooting death of Tijuana Davis, 39, in the victim’s residence on North Avenue in the Falls.
Davis was the cousin of Moore’s girlfriend, Cammesoa M. Williams, 42, a Lockport native now living in Winston-Salem She is charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon for allegedly firing a shot at Davis but missing after Moore had already shot her.
Moore and Williams were in town to attend the wedding of Williams’ cousin. Davis, a friend of Williams, was expected to let Moore and Williams stay with her before an argument broke out that ended in gunfire.
Monday, Williams’ attorney, Herbert L. Greenman, said he was in the midst of negotiating a plea bargain for her.
Williams is free on $5,000 bail and was allowed to make a brief visit back to North Carolina this week. Moore is being held in the Niagara County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bail.