YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Prosecutors Wednesday told a judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court they want jurors to hear rape accusations against a man accused of a 2009 murder in Smith Township because they say it is the motive for the crime.
Defense counsel Jeffrey Haupt, however, is objecting, saying that the accusation will turn jurors against his client, Robert Moore, 51, who is charged with aggravated murder and murder for the June 2009 death of Glenna Jean White, 17.
Moore’s trial is expected to start Monday before Judge Maureen Sweeney.
Prosecutors also want jurors to be allowed to hear testimony about a fire that destroyed a car they claim White was last seen in. They said Moore set fire to the car about a week after White disappeared in order to destroy evidence.
Moore was indicted in December after investigators with the Portage County Drug Task Force received a tip on the case and worked with prosecutors to get an indictment. White’s body has never been found despite multiple searches.
Assistant Prosecutor Mike Yacovone said both the rape accusation and the car fire show one continuous course of conduct in White’s murder. He said Moore killed White because she accused him of raping her, then set the car on fire she was last seen in to cover up the crime.
“This is part of one giant crime,” Yacovone said.
Haupt disagreed. He said the rape accusation is based on one hearsay statement by a witness and that investigators with the Sebring Fire Department already investigated the car fire back in 2009 and found no evidence of an accelerant or that it was set on purpose.
In the White case, prosecutors said eyewitness accounts say that Moore was at an Alden Avenue home in Alliance on June 3, 2009, with White and several other people and they had been drinking.
As the evening wore on, White woke up several people and told them that Moore had tried to rape her. When Moore heard of the accusations, he demanded to take her home in the car of one of the people who were present.
Moore returned an hour later “covered in blood splatter from the waist up,” according to a previous motion in the case. The blood splatter was so thick that his tattoos were not visible.
Moore told people he had been in a bar fight, but the previous motion said there was too much blood on him to account for a simple fight. Moore’s pajama pants were also muddy from the knees down and his hands were “busted up.” White was never seen again.
Haupt also revisited a previous ruling by Judge Sweeney, asking her to reconsider her ruling that prosecutors could tell jurors about a 1993 homicide to which Moore had pleaded guilty. In 1993, Moore was convicted of manslaughter in Stark County for the death of Virginia Lecorchick, 22, of Alliance, who was beaten to death. Her body was recovered from Berlin Lake.
Prosecutors said jurors should hear the evidence because the details in that case mirror the details in the White case, including the fact that Moore admitted to burning the clothes he was wearing when he killed Lecorchick to hide evidence.
Judge Sweeney said she hopes to issue an order shortly.