Michael D. Moore Jr. could have ended up with nearly $600,000 from the life insurance policies of the woman he killed – his fiancee.
But that won’t happen. Under a court settlement, most of the money – just over $520,000 – will be put into a trust fund for the two children Moore had with Kayla Humphries of North Buffalo.
But $75,000 from the insurance money will be put into a special needs fund for Moore, to be used for his mental health treatment, personal expenses and possibly toward his resettlement if he ever is released from a secure mental health facility in Rochester.
Moore, now 34, shot and killed Humphries, 30, in their Crestwood Avenue home on Aug. 9, 2013. Moore then shot and killed one of his best friends, Darrell Bailey, 31, on Bailey Avenue. Police charged him with two murders.
After a non-jury trial in 2014, State Supreme Court Judge Christopher J. Burns ruled that Moore was not criminally responsible for the murders – because he is a schizophrenic who suffers from delusions. The judge noted that Moore claimed he was receiving secret commands from radio and television stations, and that two psychiatrists had testified about his mental illness.
“Seventy-five thousand dollars goes to a man who killed my daughter and killed the mother of my grandchildren. I didn’t want him to get anything,” said Lisa M. DeSabio, the guardian for the two children and the mother of Kayla Humphries.
But the settlement will end the legal dispute.
“We could have continued to fight this in court, but I didn’t want to jeopardize the financial future of my grandkids,” said DeSabio, who lives in the Town of Tonawanda with her 10-year-old grandson and 6-year-old granddaughter.
Moore knew that “he had a chance to inherit more than half a million dollars,” but wanted most of the money to go to his two children, said Terrence M. Connors, his court-appointed legal guardian.
“After I was appointed to this case, I went to see him in the hospital. He made it very clear to me that he wanted to make things financially secure for his children,” Connors said. “He could have fought this for years. Under the law, he had a legitimate claim to the money. …He could have won in court.”
The Buffalo News reported last October that Kayla Humphries had made Moore the sole beneficiary of her life insurance policies, and that – regardless of the fact that he killed her – Moore stood a decent chance of receiving the insurance money.
Edward C. Robinson, an attorney for the Humphries estate, began legal efforts to keep the money away from Moore. Robinson argued that, under the state’s “slayer law,” it would be illegal for Moore to benefit from killing his fiancee.
But because Moore was found not criminally responsible, he could have won the court battle and kept all the money, legal experts said.
Humphries had five different life insurance policies with three different companies, all listing Moore as the only beneficiary. Humphries made Moore the sole beneficiary because she believed that, if she died, he would do the right things for their children, according to Robinson.
The case was litigated in two courts – before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford and Erie County Surrogate Judge Barbara A. Howe. Earlier this year, a federal court mediator, Michael A. Brady, met with both sides to work out a settlement. Wolford approved the settlement agreement last month, and Howe is expected to approve it soon.
“We finally agreed to settle because we were able to get most of the money put into a trust fund that will be used for my grandchildren’s education and their future,” DeSabio said.
She said her two grandchildren miss their mother but are doing well, considering the trauma they went through.
“They’re both still in therapy and counseling, getting by one day at a time. They’re both doing well in school. We have pictures of Kayla all over the house, and we talk about her all the time,” DeSabio said. “On August 9, on the date Kayla was killed, we had a ceremony to remember her and we released balloons at our home.”
She described her daughter as a hard-working young woman who was beloved by many. Humphries had a master’s degree in business and worked at Rich Products in Buffalo.
State officials declared Moore dangerously mentally ill, and he was sent after the trial to the forensic unit of the Rochester Regional Psychiatric Hospital. He will remain there indefinitely, unless medical authorities and the courts approve his release back into society, Connors said.
At Moore’s trial, prosecutors characterized Moore as a cocaine addict and dealer who was aware and mentally responsible for his actions. Defense attorney Andrew LoTempio said Moore’s violent acts were caused by mental illness.
Connors said he does not know whether Moore ever will be released. He noted that John Hinckley Jr., now 61, who shot former President Ronald Reagan in a 1981 assassination attempt, was recently released from a secure mental hospital where he had been treated for 35 years.
Connors said Moore is “taking full advantage of all the counseling programs available to him, and is working very hard to address his mental health challenges. …At some point, he could petition for his release.”