Another one of my Executed Today entries: Abraham Prescott, hanged in New Hampshire on this day in 1836. The tale of his life, crime (if indeed it was) and death is one of the weirdest I’ve written about on Executed Today and I find myself puzzling over the guy. I invite Charley Project blog viewers to contribute their own opinions as to what really happened on that fatal day.
In a nutshell, he was a man who’d been broke all his life until he won a $30 million jackpot in the lottery. This was the worst thing to ever happen to him: all sorts of people swarmed in like cockroaches and relieved Abraham of his millions within a shockingly brief time period. Then Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore stepped in, ingratiated herself with him and offered to “help” him “manage” the $1.3 mil he had left. (Shakespeare had barely any education and was barely literate. It was said that at the time of his lottery win, he didn’t even know how many zeroes were in a thousand.) She spent the rest of Shakespeare’s money on herself. By the time of his death, he had only $14,000 to his name.
Then Shakespeare disappeared without a trace, and Dee Dee moved into his house and concealed his absence by various means for more than six months, then told all sorts of wild stories after the deception was discovered. He eventually turned up buried under a concrete slab in her backyard. He’d been shot twice in the chest. Dee Dee started flinging blame in all directions, even implicating her own fourteen-year-old son at one point. (I should mention that, before she ever encountered Shakespeare, she got in trouble for filing a false report with the police saying she’d been carjacked and raped. She had wanted to collect the insurance on her SUV. Despicable.)
The last time I had written about the case was in March 2010, when Dee Dee pleaded not guilty to murder. Well, I didn’t find out about it until now, but her trial concluded last month. To the surprise of no one, she was convicted of first-degree murder. The jury deliberated only three hours. The prosecution, for some inexplicable reason, did not seek the death penalty — though the case, to me, sounds like it’s just the sort of case the DP is meant to take care of. Dee Dee was instead sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 25 years for her use of a firearm.
The defense went with the “reasonable doubt” thing. Wisely, Dee Dee did not testify. One editorial sums it up very nicely:
This probably falls under the attorney/client privilege, but you have to believe it didn’t take long after the start of DeeDee Moore’s first-degree murder trial that her lawyer, Byron Hileman, had to think to himself: “I’d have an easier time getting Jack Ruby acquitted.”
It was likely not a good sign things were going to turn out well for Moore when her entire defense strategy seemed to be impersonating Glenn Close’s deranged, hysterical, Alex Forrest from Fatal Attraction…
But perhaps the real mystery surrounding the Shakespeare case is: Why did this thing ever go to trial in the first place?
With all due respect to Assistant Hillsborough State Attorney Jay Pruner, who prosecuted Moore and is a very fine lawyer, let’s face it: An Irish setter could have tried this case and won a conviction. […] Sheesh, Guy Fawkes had a greater shot at walking.
When it came time to mount a defense of Moore, Hileman might have been better off to stand up before the jury and plead candor with: “Folks, I got nothing.”
Instead, the mouthpiece offered the rather tortured argument that because DeeDee already had stolen all of Shakespeare’s assets what was the point of killing him? Well, you have to give him a nod for at least trying.
Otherwise, Hileman never entered a single piece of evidence, or called a witness.
I don’t envy the defense attorney in cases like these. Every accused criminal is entitled to a defense, and it’s the legal, moral and ethical obligation of their lawyer to try their damndest to get them off. And in cases like these, the lawyer winds up having to look like an idiot, or even more despicable than their client, or both. If they don’t provide a good defense, there’s a chance the conviction will be overturned for ineffective counsel, and the trial will have to happen all over again and the victims re-victimized, etc.
This reminds me of a rather infamous case from last fall, involving the trial of a man who, with 19 others, had gang-raped an eleven-year-old girl. The incident was captured on videotape, so there was no possibility of the accused person convincing the jury he hadn’t done it. So his attorney said the preteen victim had asked for it and compared her to “a spider luring men into her web.” I wouldn’t have been surprised if, after having made those statements in court, that attorney went off into the toilets and vomited. If he had any conscience at all, that is. Of course, he was vilified for his statements, and I don’t much like them myself, but he had to provide some kind of defense, and victim-blaming was pretty much the only one available. The jury didn’t buy it of course and the rapist got life in prison. (Why there was no plea-bargain I don’t know. That’s what most defense attorneys would have done if stuck with a case with that. Maybe the defendant didn’t agree.) Anyway, Byron Hileman was kind of stuck in a similar situation with Dee Dee, except Abraham Shakespeare’s murder wasn’t filmed.
Hileman was quoted as saying, “I can sleep good at night because I know I had done the very best job.” I once talked to a former prosecutor (now in private practice) and she said a lot of defense attorneys representing despicable, guiltier-than-OJ clients at trial do their damndest to present a vigorous defense, not only because it’s their duty, but so the inevitable conviction can’t be overturned because of incompetent counsel and the victims forced to go through the awful process again.
At her trial, Dee Dee had several emotional outbursts and was reprimanded by the judge multiple times, but when came the verdict and sentencing she had no reaction at all. Stunned beyond words, probably. The trial judge called her “cold, calculating and cruel” and “probably the most manipulative person this court has seen.” Offhand (and I must emphasize that I have no formal education in abnormal psychology but I have read about it a lot), she strikes me as a narcissistic sociopath with a possible borderline personality disorder on top of that.
At least now, she will never see the light of day again and hopefully won’t be able to hurt any more people. But she’s already caused so much irreparable harm to so many people and she doesn’t seem to be one bit sorry for any of it.