Attorneys Say Ineffective Counsel, Police Misconduct Support Defendant’s Bid for New Trial in 2010 Murder-Robbery Case
Eight years ago, prosecutors say, Unjolee Moore drove three associates to and from a fatal home invasion at the British Woods Apartments. Though prosecutors didn’t have witnesses or DNA evidence placing him there, they had an alleged confession in which Moore said he helped plan the robbery of 46-year-old Bernard Hughes, not knowing it would turn fatal.
That was enough for jurors in 2013 to convict Moore, now 32, of felony murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, second-degree murder and employing a firearm during a dangerous felony. Those charges resulted in a life sentence that he’s serving at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center near Nashville.
But on Monday in Hamilton County Criminal Court, Moore’s attorneys will argue that ineffective assistance of counsel resulted in a wrongful conviction in 2013 and a rejected appeal three years later.
His new attorneys say his trial lawyer didn’t call key alibi witnesses in his defense or ask for a new trial date when he received critical evidence a week before jurors were summoned. Also, Moore’s advocates say, there was police misconduct that resulted in uncollected evidence, a coercive interview with detectives that’s only partially recorded and a suspect who initially implicated Moore who was in contact with her relative, then a high-ranking lieutenant at the Chattanooga Police Department, before and after the homicide.
The Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment, citing a pending case.
According to Times Free Press archives, prosecutors at trial said Moore told police what happened, the robbery plans, his involvement and other details, such as the caliber of the weapons used, that had not been publicly released. In a recently filed motion, prosecutor Cameron Williams denied Moore received ineffective counsel, writing that even if he had, there’s “no reasonable probability” his case would have ended differently.
Moore’s current attorneys, Daniel Murphy and Barry Woods of Nashville, say they’ve complied hundreds of documents to make their case, including a transcript of Moore’s alleged confession and police reports showing how Chattanooga detectives ended up arresting Steven Ballou, Harold Butler, John Simpson and Moore in the shooting death of Hughes and the attempted murder of Timothy Westfield. The Concerned Citizens for Justice provided the bulk of the documents to the Times Free Press.