Michael Moore was found not criminally responsible because of mental disease Monday for killing his fiancée in their North Buffalo apartment last year and fatally shooting his longtime friend two hours later at an East Side convenience store.
State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns, who presided at Moore’s non-jury trial last week, announced the verdict from the bench.
Moore will be committed to the custody of the state mental health commissioner for evaluation of his mental illness and then assigned to a state psychiatric facility for treatment and a hearing to determine if he is dangerously mentally ill.
If it is ever determined that Moore is no longer dangerously mental ill, he could be released, subject to court approval.
However, his attorney, Andrew C. LoTempio, said he doesn’t believe that will ever happen because of the severity of his client’s mental disease.
During the trial, LoTempio contended that Moore was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and could not be held criminally responsible because he didn’t understand the consequences and the wrongfulness of his actions.
Erie County Assistant District Attorney Paul E. Bonanno maintained that Moore was not suffering from mental disease but had a cocaine-induced psychosis and knew the consequences and wrongfulness of his actions. He said Moore should be convicted of two counts of second-degree murder.
Moore, 32, was charged in the slayings of Kayla Humphries, 30, at about 11 p.m. Aug. 9, 2013, in their Crestwood Avenue apartment and Darrell Bailey, 31, after 1 a.m. Aug. 10, 2013, outside the Ferry Express Mini Mart on Bailey Avenue.
Moore and Humphries lived on Crestwood with their 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. They became engaged in January 2013. But after Moore fathered a child with another woman, he moved out in June 2013 into a house he owned and was rehabbing on Wyoming Avenue.
Prosecutors said Moore returned to the North Buffalo apartment two months later and shot Humphries twice in the head as she lay sleeping in bed, then he took their children to her mother’s home and left without saying a word.
Moore later found Bailey parked in a car outside the convenience store, walked up to Bailey and shot him twice in the head, then drove away. Police tracked Moore’s car to the house on Wyoming, where he surrendered.
In finding Moore not criminally responsible, Burns cited the testimony of two psychiatrists – one hired by the defense and another by the prosecution – who examined Moore and found that he showed at least two symptoms of schizophrenia: delusions and withdrawal from society.
The delusions included his belief that Humphries was cheating on him, had taken out a life insurance policy on him and planned to kill him, and that Bailey, a promising rap singer, would not let him rap on an album he made.
The judge cited text messages between Humphries and Moore’s sister in the months before the slayings, expressing concern that Moore was losing touch with reality.
In those texts, they said Moore claimed that the radio and television were sending him messages about what he should do and that he also received messages from the numbers on a restaurant bill.
The judge questioned the testimony of a second prosecution psychiatrist who said Moore was suffering not from schizophrenia but from a cocaine-induced psychosis that caused his delusions.
Burns said that psychiatrist’s opinion was rife with speculation but no proof that Moore was using cocaine in the months before the killings.
LoTempio, in his closing statement, had noted that Moore tested positive only once for cocaine while undergoing court-ordered drug treatment from February to July 2013 after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and possessing cocaine.
LoTempio also said Moore was living in isolation in the attic on Wyoming without a sink and toilet and with a mattress on the floor.
After the verdict, LoTempio said the case was devastating for the families of both the defendant and the victim, who were in the courtroom to hear the outcome.
He said the couple’s children have been in the custody of the victim’s family.
The victim’s brother, Marcus Humphries, and her mother, Lisa DeSabio, declined to comment.
But Marcus Humphries later called the judge’s verdict a travesty. He said Moore is not mentally ill but is feigning schizophrenia because he is familiar with the symptoms of the disorder.
LoTempio also criticized the District Attorney’s Office for hiring a second psychiatrist and going to trial after the first one found that Moore was suffering from a mental disease and was not criminally responsible for the fatal shootings.