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Plea deal reached
Man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The location of a eyewitness just days before a murder trial was set to begin resulted in a last-minute plea agreement in connection with the death of an Horsepasture man in 2011.
Kenneth Tyrone Moore, 53, formerly of 901 Forest Lake Drive, Martinsville, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a nonviolent felon convicted more than 10 years earlier in connection with the Oct. 29, 2011, death of Gilbert Harold Robinson Jr., 57, of Horsepasture.
Moore was indicted in March on one count of murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a felon convicted more than 10 years before.
Moore and Robinson were “in a drunken, clumsy argument. ... The gun went off,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Bushnell said. “That is the essence” of the case.
Moore, who has difficulty with mobility, remained seated beside defense attorney Larry Gott while the amended indictments were read.
After entering guilty pleas to the two amended indictments — the indictment of use of a firearm in commission of a felony was dismissed, according to the terms of the agreement — Moore responded to a series of questions from Henry County Circuit Court Judge David Williams.
Moore hesitated briefly before replying “Yes Sir,” after Williams asked Moore if he pleaded guilty because he was guilty.
Bushnell stated Moore is considered a convicted felon because he was found guilty of cocaine possession on Jan. 27, 2000, in Martinsville Circuit Court.
On the day Robinson was shot, the two men both were drinking and under the influence of alcohol on Dan-Wythe Drive in Horsepasture, Bushnell said.
“It is not entirely clear” whether the two were at a party or “just hanging out,” Bushnell said. Regardless, there were a number of other people in the apartment complex, many of whom also were drinking, he added.
Robinson and Moore “got into an argument of some kind” over something inconsequential, Bushnell said. The cause of the argument was not mentioned in court.
However, both men were about the same size and both were “beyond an age” where they should have known better, Bushnell said. As the argument escalated, the two men began pushing and shoving and made their way outside, he said.
Because “all of the witnesses were imbibing — some more than others,” the events that occurred outside were not entirely clear until Henry County Sheriff’s Investigator Randy Goad found the eyewitness late last week, Bushnell said of the woman who told authorities that she saw the incident unfold outside but did not come forward earlier because she had hoped she would not have to be involved.
A security camera on the premises also caught some details of the incident, but the camera was located “some distance away” from where the incident took place, and a “very bright light” between the camera and the area in which the shooting took place hampered some details of the incident, Bushnell said.
However, what the eyewitness said was consistent with the details authorities were able to glean from the security camera, he said.
The eyewitness told authorities that she was walking outside of the apartments when she saw Moore, who also is known as “Big Moe,” and Robinson struggling with each other, Bushnell said.
Many of Robinson’s family members confirmed in court that he also had difficulty getting around, and both had used the handicapped ramp when they left the building, Bushnell said. Both men fell down the ramp, and after the fall, each man struggled to get back onto his feet, he added.
It was then that Moore “reached into a pocket and came out with a gun” that was meant to intimidate Robinson, Bushnell said.
As Moore “was lumbering to his feet,” the gun discharged, and a single shot struck Robinson, Bushnell said.
Robinson was airlifted that night to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where he died on Nov. 25, according to previous Bulletin reports.
“He succumbed to pneumonia,” Bushnell said, and added that a Medical Examiner was prepared to testify that the pneumonia was “completely attributable to the gunshot wound,” which penetrated one of Robinson’s lungs, he added.
The eyewitness told authorities that in her opinion, “there was no intention to kill” Robinson, Bushnell said. Moore also told authorities he had no intention of killing or even shooting Robinson, he added.
Williams told Moore that the maximum sentence on the involuntary manslaughter charge is 10 years, and five years maximum on the firearm charge.
Moore is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. on July 24.