Michelle and Greg Moore. COURTESY PHOTO, Moore family

Michelle and Greg Moore. COURTESY PHOTO, Moore family

SeaTac girl pleads guilty to hit-and-run murder of Maple Valley man

Judge sentences the 17-year-old to remain in custody until she turns 21; maximum allowed by law

A King County judge sentenced a 17-year-old SeaTac girl to remain in custody until age 21 after she pleaded guilty to the July 2021 hit-and-run death of Greg Moore, 53, while he was jogging near his home in Maple Valley.

The girl, 15 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty March 20 in King County Juvenile Court in Seattle to a second-degree hit-and-run murder charge and to a hit-and-run charge in a separate case in Des Moines the day before she hit Moore, a married father of three adult children.

“She was sentenced to be in custody until age 21, which is the longest someone at her age can be held for these charges and her age in Juvenile Court,” said Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The Kent Reporter is not naming the girl because she is a juvenile. She has remained in custody at the Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle since deputies arrested her in September 2021. The teen will serve her esentence through the state Department of Children, Youth and Families Juvenile Rehabilitation program at the Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie.

Prosecutors dropped an assault charge against the teen in the Des Moines hit-and-run in return for the girl’s guilty plea in Moore’s death, McNerthney said. Moore was killed on July 18, 2021.

King County Sheriff’s Office investigators were unable to find and identify the man injured in the July 17, 2021 Des Moines case. Prosecutors charged it as a John Doe victim. Further investigation by detectives and interviews of witnesses led to cellphone video evidence that showed the girl hit a man in the 20800 block of 13th Avenue South in Des Moines while driving the same 2004 Toyota Camry she used to hit Moore.

Michelle Moore, the widow of Greg Moore, attended the hearing along with two of their children, Greg’s parents, his sister, a granddaughter and a family friend.

“It’s been a long, hard, frustrating journey,” said Michelle Moore during a March 22 phone interview. “The

state’s attorney said it could go (if it went to a trial in front of a judge) to the end of summer, so we’re pleased with the hearing happening on March 20, sooner than we had expected.”

It took about 18 months since the teen’s arrest before her guilty plea ended the case. There were many reasons the case dragged on, including the defense asking for the case to be continued for more time to prepare their case as they looked for mitigating factors, said King County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jimmy Hung in an earlier interview. 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.

“It’s not like true closure because we don’t feel like justice was really served and nothing can bring Greg back,” said Moore who was married to Greg for 29 years and had three children with him.

Judge Nelson Lee sentenced the teen to the maximum term.

“We were really pleased the judge issued the most severe punishment that he could and he said in his statement that he wasn’t buying into her remorse,” Moore said.

Moore and her family, however, wanted the teen to be tried in adult court, where if convicted by a jury, she could have been sentenced up to 20 years.

“I still feel like it should have been tried in adult court,” Moore said. “The family and I are pretty solid in that this was a miscarriage of justice, it should have gone to adult court immediately. We realized there’s no way to rectify that and we learned to accept that, but we’re frustrated that’s what happened.”

The family pushed proseuctors for the case to be in adult court right after the arrest of the girl. If the girl had been 16 at the time of the crime, she could have been charged in adult court because of the felony offense.

“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.”

The family also wanted a first-degree murder charge rather than a second-degree charge.

McNerthney explained after charges were 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.”

The girl 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.

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 hit Moore and led detectives to the girl. Detectives released a photo of a similar Camry to the media to help track down the girl. Detectives discovered she had taken her godmother’s vehicle without permission or knowledge of the godmother.

Prosecutors charged the girl for hitting Moore with a car and then fleeing the scene. She initially pleaded not guilty.

“Six years doesn’t seem an appropriate sentence for someone that did what she did,” Moore said. “It should have been murder one rather than murder two. They said she meant to hit him but didn’t mean to kill him which is ridiculous in my mind if she was going over 50 mph. Pretty much anyone of average intelligence knows a car going 50 mph is going to kill a person.”

Moore said the criminal justice system has changed to favor criminals more than victims.

“I think it’s important that people vote and that we start restoring law and order in this state and this county,” Moore said. “It’s kinda of gone too far the other way. We feel like oftentimes the rights of the criminal are paramount to the rights of the victim.”

Prior to the judge issuing his sentencing, Laureen Moore Bray, the sister of Greg Moore, read a statement in court. She addressed part of her message to the SeaTac teen.

“You will never be forgiven,” Bray said. “You are 1,000% responsible for this crime. You cannot blame this on your family situation or any other circumstance you conger up in your head. There are sadly so many kids in the same living situation or worse who would never purposely take another life, so you don’t get to blame this on your circumstances. You cowardly took Greg’s life. A living being who was loved by his family, friends and community. He never got the chance to retire and live life. …travel, watch his kids and grandkids grow up.”

Bray addressed another part of her statement to Judge Lee.

“In a perfect world, I would’ve loved to see (the teen) tried as an adult and get a life sentence,” Bray said. “But here we are in juvenile court as a murderer’s life and rights are more important than my innocent brother’s life. I hope and pray you give her the max sentence and any extra bits that can be applied. Community service, going to schools, teaching the effects of violence, drugs and alcohol. Maybe working with a professional on what kind of help kids growing up need that have no guidance and/or parental supervision. I would like to see some type of positivity come out of this horrendous crime.”

Michelle Moore also read a statement in court. She said there’s two scenarios about how things could go for the 17-year-old girl.

Under the first one, she said the teen would listen to her therapists and learn how to be a decent human being.

“You wake up every morning with the goal of being a better person and you take steps every day to make that a reality,” Moore said. “When you are released from this oasis in less than six years you become a model citizen. You mentor teenagers that are headed down a bad path and you impart to them the wisdom and knowledge you have gained. You feel genuinely remorseful about what you have taken from me, from my family and you work hard every day to atone for murdering my husband on that sunny July morning.”

Under the second scenario described by Moore, life doesn’t go so well. The girl bullies and threatens others.

“You take no responsibility for murdering my husband except when it bolsters your reputation with your fellow juvenile offenders,” Moore said. “You feel like the victim because you are held against your will. You think you know more than the teachers, more than the counselors, and more than everyone around you. You will mistake fear for respect. You will view kindness, love and empathy as character flaws. When you are released, in less than six years, you return to a life of crime, a life of violence,and a life wasted. You will end up in a big girl prison the next time around, where you will likely stay for a very long time. And I will take comfort in that.”

Moore wrapped up her message by reading from a letter her husband wrote to her on her 51st birthday in an effort to illustrate to the teen what she took from her. Moore celebrated just one more birthday with her husband.

“I love our life together, we are only 51 now, and if you think about it we have longer to go than we have been together and I am really excited about that. I know that sometimes it’s boring and sometimes things don’t move along as fast as you would like but we will get to where we are going (wherever that may be), most importantly we will get there together.

“Who knows where we will end up, but I know one thing; no matter what we will always be fine. I will always love you, care for you, provide for you, and support you. Not that you can’t do it yourself, but its nice to know someone has your back no matter what.

“Happy 51st birthday. We are both in great shape and adventure awaits! There will be exciting times, boring times, times we disagree, times we really like each other and I am sure times we don’t so much. Through all those times, from sitting on the couch to great adventures, to the mundane day-in and day-out stuff I always love you just the same. So happy birthday! I have more birthdays to say that in the future than I have had in the past.

“Love Always and Forever, Your Husband.”

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Greg Moore. COURTESY PHOTO, Moore family

Greg Moore. COURTESY PHOTO, Moore family

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