Michelle Moore pushed a wheelbarrow full of bark on a recent sunny afternoon in her Maple Valley backyard. She wanted to turn toward her husband to tease him about a life of luxury he promised.
But those teases ended just over a year ago.
Gregory Moore, 53, was killed the morning of July 18, 2021 by a hit-and-run driver while jogging near his home.
“I miss having that long-term relationship where we know each other’s past, we know what we’ve planned for the future and we have all of these stupid inside jokes that married people have,” Moore said about her husband of 29 years. “I miss that.”
The loss of her husband has left Moore frustrated with the justice system.
In September 2021, King County prosecutors charged a then 15-year-old SeaTac girl with second-degree murder for allegedly hitting Moore with a car and then fleeing the scene. She pleaded not guilty. The case remained unsolved for about eight weeks. King County Sheriff’s Office detectives used headlight fragments found near the scene, video surveillance and other evidence to identify a 2004 Toyota Camry that reportedly hit Moore.
The release of a photo to the media similar to the car that struck Moore led to tips from the public and eventually led detectives to look for the 15-year-old SeaTac girl. She was taken into custody Sept. 9, 2021. She has remained in custody at the county’s Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle. The Kent Reporter is not naming the girl because she is a juvenile.
Casey McNerthney, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, explained after the second-degree murder charge was filed that prosecutors didn’t seek a first-degree murder charge because there was no evidence that the teen premeditated the death of Moore. He said the two were strangers to each other.
“She is charged with murder in the second degree under the felony murder theory,” McNerthney said. “That is, in the attempt to commit a felony, she caused the death of another human being. Specifically, in this case, it is alleged that she intended to hit/bump the victim with a motor vehicle (assault in the second degree), and this caused his death.”
A trial date before a judge has not yet been set as the case continues to get pushed out.
King County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jimmy Hung said during a July 20 phone interview that the defense has asked for the case to be continued as they want more time to prepare their case as they look for mitigating factors. Hung said the case also was delayed when the public defender originally assigned to the case was moved out of juvenile court, so another attorney had to take over.
No plea negotiations are being discussed with the defense, Hung said.
“We are not looking to reduce the charges,” Hung said.
During the investigation into Moore’s death, detectives found evidence that led to further charges against the girl in a July 2021 hit and run in Des Moines that reportedly injured a pedestrian who has not yet been identified. She faces second-degree assault and felony hit and run charges in that case that has been added to the second-degree murder charge.
“I’m super frustrated by the prosecution team and the whole judicial system,” Moore said. “It’s ridiculous to me that they chose to try her as a minor in the first place.”
Moore and her family pushed hard for prosecutors to try the girl as an adult. If convicted as a juvenile, the teen will be released when she turns 21. If convicted by a jury in adult court, the girl could have faced a sentence of up to 20 years.
“This juvenile was 15 years old at the time of the offenses for which she was charged,” according to a Prosecuting Attorney’s Office statement after charges were filed. “She has no prior arrests or criminal history. The laws of our state presume that a child this age must be prosecuted in juvenile court.”
Youth who are 16 at the time of a crime can legally be charged as an adult if they are charged with a felony.
“One of the consolations they offered me to try her as a minor was the juvenile system moves a lot more quicker than the adult system, but it sure doesn’t feel like it’s moving very fast to me,” Moore said.
Hung said he knows the Moore family came away disappointed that the case didn’t get moved to adult court. He said that’s motivation for the prosecution to get to trial.
“We are doing what we can to move the case along so Miss Moore and her family can have some sense of closure on the legal process because there will never truly be closure for them as they will have to deal with their loss for the rest of their lives,” Hung said. “We don’t want this legal process to continue to contribute to their harm. We are doing everything we can to bring this case to a resolution.”
Hung understands the frustration.
“The wheels of justice move slowly couldn’t be more true,” Hung said. “That’s part of the things about the system that are not perfect.”
Moore said nothing of note has happened in court since November when a judge denied a motion by the defense to release the girl from custody. The defense wanted the girl placed on electronic home monitoring to the custody of a woman who is unrelated to the girl and not a guardian, according to court documents. The woman is the mother of a girlfriend of the SeaTac girl.
Prosecutors argued that the girl should remain in custody as a likely failure to appear for further court proceedings, to protect her from herself and as a threat to community safety, according to court documents.
“I did take comfort a little bit as long as it’s on trial she is in juvenile detention,” Moore said. “It’s a little less cushy than where she will go eventually which is more like a summer camp to me.”
If the teen is convicted or pleads guilty, she will be turned over from the county to the Juvenile Rehabilitation division of the state Department of Children, Youth & Families. Hung said the teen would serve her sentence at the Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie.
It’s tough on Moore to see the judicial system fail to come through after the taking of her husband’s life.
“The whole thing is pretty frustrating,” she said. “No one ever expects to be in the middle of something like that. Greg and I were just normal people living our lives and working and then this happened.”
Moore said she wanted prosecutors to file charges against the two teens who were passengers in the car that reportedly hit her husband as well as the teen who drove another vehicle that followed them and saw the incident, according to court documents
“I’m incredibly frustrated with the prosecution’s decision not to try anybody else,” Moore said. “The passenger in her car and a backseat passenger and the driver in the car that followed. They didn’t say anything until they were caught. That is incredibly frustrating and has caused me a lot of anxiety.”
Hung said investigators looked into the role of the passengers.
“There is no evidence they committed a crime,” Hung said.
He added that just being present at the scene of a crime doesn’t make you a part of that crime. He said there was no evidence that the passengers assisted in the decision to strike Moore with a vehicle while he was jogging.
The SeaTac girl reportedly saw a jogger and tried to bump Moore with her vehicle to “scare him,” according to a witness statement.
A woman found Moore dead in the ditch later in the morning that day in front of the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 23855 SE 216th St.
Moore said support from family and friends have helped her cope with her husband’s death.
“I’ve got top-notch friends and family for my support system,” she said. “I have no complaints in that department. I belong to a couple of widow groups online. I’m very thankful for the support I have.”
Moore said it’s a process to cope with the loss of her husband.
“The one year anniversary was (July 18). …that was a tough day,” she said. “We’ve had all of the firsts, first Christmas, first Thanksgiving and first birthday which was really hard. It’s supposed to get easier, but it doesn’t feel like it’s getting a lot easier.”
The death of Greg Moore will stick in her memory.
“It will always be there,” she said. “Thirty years from now, it doesn’t ever disappear, it’s still a loss.”
Living in their house without her husband proved to be challenging.
“For the first nine months I was here by myself and that was really hard,” Moore said. “But a few months ago my daughter and her family moved in so we are finding new memories and inside jokes. Her and her family are absorbing that space that got opened by Greg’s departure, so that’s helpful.”
She wishes the justice system could be more helpful.
“It’s very, very slow,” Moore said. “It’s called the justice system but it doesn’t feel like justice to me. It feels like a slap on the wrist for the severity of the crimes she (reportedly) committed.”
Justice, in the eyes of Moore, won’t be served.
“She should have been tried as an adult which would have afforded her a jury trial which is what she should have and not a bench trial (before a judge),” Moore said. “It should be (a sentence of) 20 years, 15 years minimum. I’m confounded by the fact that she will serve until she’s 21. She turns an adult at 18 but stays in a juvenile facility. If she was transferred to an adult prison, I’d feel some justice in that, but that’s not happening.”
Moore doesn’t see a promising outlook for the teen involved in the case.
“I’m fairly certain she will end up in prison eventually, but unfortunately other people will probably get hurt for that to happen,” Moore said. “I would never want another innocent person to be put in the position I am in now or to suffer what Greg did.”