NORRISTOWN — A Pottstown man accused of the April 2019 gunshot slaying of another man in the borough maintains a cellphone video depicting him “singing and dancing while holding and waving a gun” is unduly prejudicial and prosecutors should be prevented from presenting it to a jury.
Stephen Moore, through his lawyer Carrie L. Allman, filed papers in Montgomery County Court, asking a judge to exclude the video as prosecutorial evidence at his upcoming trial.
“The video shows Mr. Moore singing and dancing while holding and waving a firearm. This firearm was not used in the homicide,” Allman, the chief homicide lawyer in the Montgomery County Office of Public Defender, wrote in court papers.
Allman argued the video will lead a jury to conclude that Moore, accused of the 12:26 p.m. April 21, 2019, fatal shooting of 25-year-old Joshua Alexander Smith, has a propensity for violence and firearm usage “which is an improper inference.”
“This video has no evidentiary value in this case and will only serve to inflame the passions of the jury by leading them to believe that Mr. Moore is cavalier about firearms, familiar with firearms, and therefore likely to have used a firearm in connection with the death of Mr. Joshua Smith,” Allman argued. “The Commonwealth is merely seeking to show that Mr. Moore has a propensity to commit this type of act and that is not a proper reason for the introduction of such a video.”
A #Pottstown man accused of the April 2019 gunshot slaying of another man in the borough maintains a cellphone video of him “singing and dancing while holding and waving a gun” is unduly prejudicial and prosecutors should be prevented from presenting it to a #MontcoPa jury.— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) July 24, 2020
The cellphone containing the video was provided to detectives by Moore’s wife, according to court documents, following her testimony before a grand jury in December 2019. Allman argued the woman’s consent was not voluntary and that is another reason the video should be suppressed.
“The use of a grand jury, compelling testimony, holding Ms. Moore at the whim of the legal process, under threat of arrest or charges of perjury cannot support a voluntary consent,” Allman argued.
Prosecutors will get a chance to respond to Allman’s request when Judge Thomas C. Branca holds a pretrial hearing in the case. First Assistant District Attorney Edward F. McCann Jr. and co-prosecutor Samantha Thompson are handling the case.
Branca previously set a tentative trial date for Oct. 5. However, that date could change given the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which has postponed jury trials since mid-March.
Accused #Pottstown killer Stephen Moore, through his lawyer Carrie Allman, filed papers in #MontcoPa #Court, asking a judge to exclude a cellphone video as prosecutorial evidence at his trial.Video shows Moore "singing and dancing while holding and waving a firearm." pic.twitter.com/cqIXSx0STs— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) July 24, 2020
Moore, 32, of the 400 block of Chestnut Street, faces charges of first- and third-degree murder and possession of a prohibited firearm in connection with the Easter Sunday 2019 fatal shooting that occurred in the 600 block of Industrial Highway.
The investigation began when Pottstown police responded to a reported shooting at the Industrial Highway address and found Smith suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Smith was transported to Pottstown Hospital Tower Health where he was pronounced dead.
As officers were responding to the homicide scene, a Pottstown police officer observed a silver 2015 Jeep traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound on Industrial Highway, away from the shooting scene, and began following the vehicle, which crashed at the intersection of High and Wilson streets, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective James McGowan and Pottstown Detective Sergeant Thomas Leahan.
“The video shows Mr. Moore singing and dancing while holding and waving a firearm. This firearm was not used in the homicide,” defense lawyer Carrie Allman argued in #MontcoPa Court papers on behalf of accused killer Stephen Moore.Seeking suppression of video as trial eveidence— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) July 24, 2020
As police approached the crash, the male driver exited the Jeep and fled the scene on foot, according to the arrest affidavit. Following the crash, detectives recovered a Ruger .38-caliber pistol from the center console of the Jeep and a Taurus 9 mm pistol and two cellphones also were recovered at the scene.
The investigation revealed that Moore and Smith left Smith’s residence together earlier in the day in the Jeep, operated by Moore and owned by Moore’s wife.
The victim and Moore went together to the Home Depot store in Pottstown and were captured on surveillance video as Moore purchased a screwdriver just minutes before the shooting.
Surveillance video in the area of High and Wilson streets captured the Jeep striking a tree and a male running from the scene. The fleeing man matched the physical appearance of Moore as he was depicted in the Home Depot surveillance video, detectives alleged.
During an autopsy, a forensic pathologist recovered a fired bullet from Smith’s body and determined Smith died from gunshots to the head and neck, according to a criminal complaint. Ballistics tests determined that the bullet recovered from Smith’s body was fired from the Ruger .38 caliber gun found in the Jeep, according to the arrest affidavit.
Moore was arrested on Dec. 3 inside a residence in the 800 block of North Charlotte Street in Pottstown by the Montgomery County SWAT Western Region.
In the criminal complaint, detectives alleged Moore has a previous conviction for aggravated manslaughter in Camden, N.J., for which he served time in prison, and as a result he is prohibited from possessing a firearm.