Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Monday, January 7, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Michael Patrick Moore Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Michael Patrick Moore who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2002.

On Nov. 3, 1994, Michael Patrick Moore was sentenced for the capital murder of Christa E. Bentley which occurred during a burglary in Copperas Cove, Texas, on Feb. 26, 1994. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

Moore stated in his confession that he had been drinking and playing pool in a nightclub in Killeen, Texas, on the evening of Feb. 25, 1994, and that he stayed at the bar until last call, after which he drove back to Copperas Cove. According to Moore, he was broke and behind in rent and had 10 or so outstanding bad checks. So when he got back in town, he decided to "look into getting some income." Moore said that he had previously seen a photograph of "T.R." Bentley, the victim's daughter, in a Copperas Cove High School yearbook, and he had looked up her address. Moore said that he had driven by the Bentley home one day and had seen "T.R." standing outside and therefore knew she lived there.

Moore confessed that he got to the Bentley house sometime after 2 a.m. Dressed in black clothing, he approached the home carrying a crow bar, a pistol in a holster on his belt, and a "large knife" in a scabbard. Moore found the back door unlocked and laid the crow bar down on the porch. He entered the Bentley residence armed with his gun and knife. Moore removed his black shirt, laid it in a chair in the dining room and headed toward the bedrooms. He heard a female voice that sounded half asleep calling out a name. He mumbled something back and went into the bathroom. Through a partly open door, Moore saw someone get out of bed. Christa Bentley opened the door and started screaming. Moore stated he tried to push her back into the bedroom, but she grabbed him and kept screaming. Moore stabbed Christa several times in the chest and eventually lost his knife. Moore then drew his revolver and shot her. He then ran out of the house, got into his car, and drove toward Lampasas. Christa's 14-year-old son awoke and found her body and called 911.

The medical examiner, Joanie McClain, later testified during the guilt/innocence stage of the trial that she performed the autopsy on Christa Bentley and described the murder as "overkill" and "particularly brutal." She described that one fingernail on Bentley's left hand had been completely bent backwards and broken and that such a wound was a defensive injury. Bentley also had eight separate, sharp force entries to the body. Dr. McClain estimated the weapon was a 6-inch long blade and that the maximum amount of time Bentley could have survived was "somewhere in the minutes range." The cause of death was determined to be multiple stab wounds.

After fleeing the crime scene, Moore stated he saw police lights behind him, and he thought he was being chased because the police must have known he had stabbed and shot a woman. Trial testimony from officers showed that they followed Moore because he did not have on his car headlights. Instead of giving up, Moore led the police on a car chase of speeds up to 80 mph. Moore slowed down and jumped out of the car, stumbled and tried to run, but the police apprehended him.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

March 31, 1994 - Moore was indicted in the 52nd District Court of Coryell County, for the capital offense of murdering Christa E. Bentley during the course of committing and attempting to commit robbery on Feb. 26, 1994.

October 31, 1994 - A jury found Moore guilty of capital murder.

November 3, 1994 - Following a separate punishment hearing, the court assessed Moore's punishment as death.

October 16, 1996 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in a published opinion.

December 18, 1996 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied rehearing.

May 12, 1997 - The United States Supreme Court denied Moore's petition for certiorari review.

December 2, 1997 - Moore filed an application for state writ of habeas corpus.

May 27, 1998 - After the state habeas court had entered detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that habeas relief be denied, the application was denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals in an unpublished order.

November 4, 1998 - After previously obtaining appointment of counsel, Moore filed a petition for habeas corpus relief in federal district court.

August 31, 1999 - The district court denied habeas relief.

August 23, 2000 - The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied permission to appeal in a published opinion.

October 26, 2000 - The Fifth Circuit court denied rehearing.

January 24, 2001 - Moore filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.

March 26, 2001 - The Supreme Court denied certiorari review.

March 26, 2001 - Moore filed a second state habeas petition.

March 27, 2001 - The Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution.

November 21, 2001- The Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Moore's successive state habeas petition as an abuse of the writ and vacates the stay of execution.

November 29, 2001 - The trial court set Moore for execution on January 9, 2002.

PRIOR HISTORY

In his confession, Moore admitted that he had stolen the knife and gun, which he used to stab and shoot the victim, from two different residences in Copperas Cove.

During the punishment phase, the State introduced records from the Conners Children's Home where Moore resided during part of his childhood. The records indicated Moore twice set fire to his house and once to the Children's Home. He threatened to kill his parents and blame their deaths on his younger brother. He also tried to stab his younger brother with a pair of scissors. The State also introduced evidence that as a child, Moore continuously exhibited violent and improper sexual behavior. In addition, while serving in the Navy, Moore was on unauthorized absence three times and was convicted of larceny. Moore also admitted to being involved in a physical altercation while in jail.

The State introduced a notebook written by Moore entitled "The Girls of Copperas Cove" in which he listed the names and addresses of 300 teenage girls of Copperas Cove. Many of these girls, including "T.R.," the victim's daughter, testified that Moore stalked, harassed and threatened them. Moore wrote letters to several of the girls in which he threatened to rape them.

The State introduced evidence of various extraneous offenses, including several burglaries that often took place while the victims were home and that were perpetrated against the girls listed in the notebook. Moore's notebook also contained the license plate numbers of a Coryell County Justice of the Peace and a Copperas Cove police sergeant.

The State called psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Coons, who testified to Moore's future danger to society, noting that Moore lacked a conscience, was a continuing threat to society, and that he would be manipulative, vindictive and a threat to smaller prisoners.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

- 30 -


Go to Top