Garland officer's widow struggles as killer's execution nears
09:09 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 15, 2009
By SHERRY JACOBSON / The Dallas Morning News
Sheila Moore has managed pretty well in the dozen years since her husband, Garland police Officer Michael "David"
Moore, was shot to death trying to prevent a bank robbery.
She and their three children live in a gated community near Lake Ray Hubbard. Both daughters have graduated from high
school and earned college scholarships. A teenage son has become an avid Boy Scout.
But then, this summer, came one of the harshest reminders of Feb. 15, 1997, the day Kenneth Mosley killed Moore's
husband and left her children without a father. The family got word that Mosley's execution had been scheduled.
Moore and her two daughters – Courtney, 20, and Caitlin, 18 – had to decide: Should they watch Mosley die by injection
"A friend of mine told me I should give Mosley one last chance to ask for forgiveness for what he's done," Moore said.
"I don't know if he'll do it, but that's the reason I would be there."
The decision hasn't been an easy one. Moore is on the witness list and will go to Huntsville. But the 47-year-old CPA
won't decide until she's there whether she'll watch the execution.
Moore's ambivalence about the death penalty surfaced in the week after Mosley's 1997 capital murder trial, when she
questioned whether the state should execute her husband's killer. The death penalty had not bothered her, she said,
until it became personal.
"When it's real close to home, you have to question it. Is it right? I don't know," she said after Mosley was sentenced
to death by a Dallas County jury.
"Who are we to decide whether this man should live or die?" Moore asked a reporter who had covered the trial.
Her decision to go to Huntsville next week was made easier because Mosley has shown no remorse, especially to her
family. He has never written or tried to contact them, Moore said.
"David believed in the death penalty," she said. "I know if it was reversed – and I was the one who died – David would
be there in a heartbeat."
As Mosley's appeals worked their way through the courts, it delayed the need to decide how involved the Moore family
would be in the execution.
"I've thought about this off and on over the years," Moore said. "I knew we were getting to the point where the girls
would be able to decide whether to go down there with me or not."
Since both daughters are over 18, the minimum age for an execution witness, they debated whether to put their names on
the list of five people who would watch the lethal injection.
"It's hard," said Courtney. "There's a lot of mixed feelings."
The family has had to weigh whether the daughters could handle the possibility of Mosley, 51, lashing out at them as he
did during the trial.
After his conviction in 1997, Mosley took the stand to plead for his life.
"The Moore family, all they wanted is somebody they think slaughtered their loved one to die," Mosley testified. "All
they wanted was a conviction."
Last week, the sisters decided they would go to Huntsville for the execution but only as support for the people who
will witness Mosley's death.
There was never any question that Mosley killed David Moore.
Mosley, then 38, had entered the Bank One branch on Centerville Road in Garland around noon and was standing in line
when he was recognized by bank employees. They were certain he was the same guy who had robbed the bank the previous
So someone in the bank called 911 to report "a suspicious person."
Moore, 32, was having lunch with two other Garland officers not far from the bank when the call came in, said retired
Garland Police Chief Larry Wilson. The three officers hurried over.
"David was the kind of officer every chief wanted working for him," Wilson recalled. "Everybody called him 'Mad Dog'
because he was physical and at the top of his class.
"He was always looking to do whatever it took to get the job done."
A series of bank robberies in the Garland area that winter, all linked to the same suspect, had caught Moore's
attention, Wilson said. "David told everyone, 'I'm going to be the one who catches him.' "
Witnesses at the bank said Mosley was still waiting in line when Moore walked in. The officer tapped the suspect on the
back and asked him to put his hands out.
Mosley drew a handgun from his pocket and fired a shot into the wall, Wilson recalled. The two men struggled and
crashed through a nearby window.
Once outside, witnesses said, Mosley fired five shots into Moore's upper body. Although the officer was wearing a
bulletproof vest, one of the shots entered his chest above the vest and penetrated his heart, Wilson said.
Mosley tried to run from the bank but was shot in the wrist by another Garland officer and immediately taken into
"The officers gave David CPR, and CareFlite took him to Baylor hospital," the former chief said. "He died before I got
there. It was the most miserable day of my life."
Sheila Moore knew nothing of the shooting until a few hours later when she and a friend drove to the Garland Police
Department. They had intended to leave the Moores' 9-month-old son, Zachary, with his father at the end of the
officer's shift. The women were planning a late lunch.
On the way, Moore's cellphone rang. It was a neighbor telling her that something was wrong because the police were
waiting outside the Moores' house. The neighbor handed the phone to an officer, who told Moore there had been an
When Moore got to the police station, a crowd was waiting for her, including her son's day care provider, who had been
alerted by the police to come and get the baby.
"I knew it was serious then," she recalled. "They took me into a room and said David had been fatally wounded. It hit
me like a ton of bricks."
Moore was driven to the hospital, where the medical staff allowed her to see her husband's body.
"One of the nurses gave me his hand, and I held it for a while," she said. "You expect him to squeeze your hand. It
just didn't seem real."
Moore's attention quickly shifted to her daughters, then 8 and 5, who were staying with a neighbor.
"How do you tell your children?" she asked herself. "I took the police chaplain with me, but I don't think the girls
really understood what happened."
After a candlelight vigil and funeral in Garland, David Moore was buried at his family's farm in Kentucky. At the time,
the 10-year police veteran, who served in the Marines, was only the second Garland officer to die in the line of duty.
In 1989, Officer Gerald Ray Walker, 48, was shot to death by Daniel Joe Hittle during a routine traffic stop. Hittle,
who also was accused of killing four other people that night, was executed in 2000. Walker's widow was among the
Moore said she was told that watching Mosley die would give her a sense of closure about her husband's death.
"I know he is not a good person," she said of Mosley. "But I really have not decided if I can watch him die."
A busload of police officers and family friends will travel to Huntsville with the Moore family on execution day. Even
Zachary, now 13, will be going, his mother said. The eighth-grader will be part of the vigil outside the prison.
"He was a baby when his father died, so he has no memories of everything that happened," Moore said.
"At least" she said, "he can have this."
God bless her... God bless those kids.
ETA: for those of you interested in our upcoming schedule: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/scheduledexecutions.htm
And God bless Texas for giving the bad guy what he deserves.