Man guilty in shooting that paralyzed victim
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Feb 17, 2014, 13:23
Jacory Moore is shown with his son before the shooting.
HOPEWELL — Life changed drastically for Jacory Moore on Dec. 2, 2012.
The once-vibrant young man can no longer walk. He cannot feed himself. He can no longer hold his young son in his arms.
Although his shooter was found guilty Monday, Moore remains paralyzed from his neck down and requires around-the-clock care.
Moore, 24, spends most of his days in a bed, hooked up to a machine that helps him breathe. His mother, Katherine Moore, watches over her youngest son each and every day, making sure he gets what he needs to survive.
“My life will never be the same,” said Katherine, who is a registered nursing assistant. “I do believe in God and he can do anything he wants but this is a terrible tragedy. I wouldn’t want to see this happen to any father or mother. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”
The events of that shooting in the early morning hours in December 2012 were laid out by several witnesses during the trial on Monday morning. Detectives and officers, both former and current, from the Hopewell Police Department took the stand at trial to speak.
It began when officers, who had been called to VFW post on Winston Churchill Drive for crowd control, heard gunshots ring out, breaking the noise of nearly 100 party goers who were leaving. One officer recalled seeing the flash from the muzzle of the gun, later identified as a .38-caliber revolver, come from the passenger side of a white vehicle. The shooter, which officers identified in the courtroom as Kentrell Butts, 21, began to take off from the scene, running and continuing to fire shots in the direction of the car.
The white car, in which Moore was sitting in the passenger’s seat, began to roll away in the direction of South First Street. Once officers were able to get to the vehicle, they noticed the passenger was slumped over in the seat, with blood streaming down his neck. A .45-caliber gun was located in the floorboard of the vehicle as well.
While officers responded to Moore, getting him stable and in an ambulance, other officers took off after Butts and another unidentified suspect, who began running in the direction of Third Street. Butts was apprehended within a minute after the shooting as he was trying to get into a car, the .38-caliber still in his left hand.
The other person fleeing the scene was not apprehended that morning and has not been identified.
One officer who testified before the court said when Butts was taken into custody and was being escorted back to the police car, he worked to get the crowd’s attention.
“He was yelling at the crowd like he had just won a gold medal. He was excited,” the officer testified.
Though the shooting occurred more than a year ago, Katherine can still remember her phone ringing, with the caller on the other end telling her that her youngest son had been shot. That night, Katherine recalled she did not get to see her son, who had been transported to John Randolph Medical Center and was later med-flighted to Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center in Richmond.
“I didn’t even get to see my son,” Katherine said. “We got the bad news that the bullet hit him in the head and we got the news he might even be a vegetable.”
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Katherine Moore takes care of her son, Jacory, after he was paralyzed in a shooting in Hopewell in December 2012.
The bullet that hit Moore in the early morning hours in December is still in his spine. Dr. Torino Jennings, who provided care for Moore for a year, testified in court that removing the bullet could cause more harm than good, even possibly killing him.
Jennings said that Moore is a quadriplegic and will remain as such for the rest of his life. Katherine also testified in court on Monday and shed light on the care she has to provide for her son day in and day out.
Her son has also been back and forth to the hospital, as being bed ridden has caused Moore to develop several urinary tract infections.
The care that Katherine has to provide for her son has taken a toll on her, financially as well as emotionally. She has been in and out of work due to the constant care that her son needs. He is unable to be left alone, and if help is not available, Katherine has to step in and give up work to be able to care for him.
“It’s something that you’ve just got to live with and you’ve got to see your child like this every day. It’s not a happy thing,” Katherine said.
Her voice carries the weight of her heart as she speaks on all the care she has to provide for her son, such as making sure he is turned every two hours in bed so as to prevent bed sores.
“It’s a sad situation,” Katherine said. “I stay depressed. I am upset a lot. It hurts. It’s your child and you have to come in and see this every day. It’s just a hard situation.”
Another part of Moore’s life that has been taken from him is the ability to be a father to his son, Jacory Jr., 3. Moore is unable to hold his son and care for him. His son will likely never get to see his father outside of a bed or a wheelchair.
Once the testimonies were given and all the evidence was presented during trial, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Elisabeth Custalow asked the court to find Butts guilty based on the evidence, such as the gun in his hand when he was apprehended matching the type of bullets found on Moore.
Butts’ defense attorney, Jessica Mauger, said the evidence did not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, noting that the only charge the commonwealth had was Butts firing the gun as he was fleeing the scene, the only two shots anyone saw that morning in December.
Judge W. Allan Sharrett came back with a guilty ruling on all five charges against Butts: shooting in a public place, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, malicious wounding, reckless handling of a firearm, and discharge of firearm.
Though noting the case is circumstantial, Sharrett said court can apply common sense to the facts, such as Butts’ celebratory manner after being taken into custody.
“The court searches in vain of an alternative explanation,” Sharrett said. “This is a man with a gun and what he chooses to say is ‘Look at me, aren’t I great.’ Following the evidence, it leads in one direction and that is the only place it leads. The court is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt and so finds the defendant guilty of all charges.”
The next step of the case will be in April when a pre-sentence report is given before a sentence is placed upon Butts.
As the verdict was given that morning in court, sobs could be heard coming from Katherine. The trial is now over but the journey that Katherine still faces with her son and the struggles that she will continue to endure are far from being over.
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Jacory Moore now needs an electric wheelchair to move around.
“I will never be the same no matter what anyone says,” Katherine said. “It’s a sad situation. It’s just so sad.”
Though support is given from family, such as Katherine’s mother, Moore’s father, and cousins, and uncles, as well as friends, Katherine is still crying out for more help, as the strain of the care that must be provided for her son has taken its toll.
“I just wish I had more help,” Katherine said, with a weary droop of her head. “I think if everybody was to come, me and Jacory would both feel better. ... I know Jacory would like that also.”
Though Jacory cannot fully speak to let anyone know what he needs or wants, his mother is there for him every minute, every hour of the day. Katherine speaks to him and she can understand some words he tries to form with his lips. As Jacory sits in his hospital bed in his room, he stares at the television and the hum of the machines can be heard in the background, keeping him alive.
Though Jacory is unable to reach out and show his mother the affection she once knew, his eyes follow her around the room, letting her know he is still there with her.