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Larry Eugene MOON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: November-December 1984
Date of arrest: December 14, 1984
Date of birth: November 5, 1947
Victim profile: ??? / Thomas DeJose / Ricky Callahan, 34
Method of murder: Shooting (.22 caliber handgun)
Location: Catoosa County, Georgia, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Georgia on March 25, 2003
 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary:

Callahan was killed in Catoosa County, near the Tennessee border, after leaving his wife late in the evening to buy headache medicine.

His body was found in a rock pit the next morning. He had been shot twice in the head with a .22 caliber handgun. The headache powders were found on the body, but his wallet, watch and car were missing.

After a nationwide hunt, law enforcement officials arrested Moon in Oneida, Tenn., on Dec. 14, 1984. He was driving the car stolen from Callahan, with a number of weapons inside.

Although there were no eyewitnesses, there was strong evidence tying Moon to the crime. Moon had the murder weapon when he was arrested and was seen with Callahan's wallet on the night of the killing.

Moon has an extensive criminal history and has been accused of two other killings. He has admitted to one, saying it was self-defense. He was not convicted of either one.

Citations:

Zant v. Moon, 440 S.E.2d 657 (Ga. 1994). (State Habeas)
Moon v. State, 375 S.E.2d 442 (Ga. 1988). (Direct Appeal)

Final Meal:

Steak, pork chops, potatoes, okra, corn, green beans, dinner rolls, walnut ice cream and iced tea.

Final Words:

"I'm innocent, and I did not kill Ricky, I'll add."

ClarkProsecutor.org

 
 

Georgia Department of Corrections

Larry Eugene Moon #218040
DOB: 11/05/1947
RACE: WHITE
GENDER: MALE
HEIGHT: 6'03''
WEIGHT: 200
EYE COLOR: GREEN
HAIR COLOR: BROWN
COUNTY: CATOOSA COUNTY

 
 

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Larry Moon (GA) - March 25, 2003

The state of Georgia is scheduled to execute Larry Moon March 25 for the 1984 robbery and murder of Ricky Callahan in Catoosa County. Moon, a white man, allegedly shot Callahan twice in the head and stole his car before fleeing to Tennessee.

He received his death sentence in 1988, but only after a trial plagued by prosecutorial misconduct. Through all the procedural flaws in Moon’s case, one critical possibility now stands out as the obvious reason to halt this pending execution: Moon may very well be innocent.

As his lawyers have unsuccessfully appealed to the courts concerning irregularities in the state’s case, more evidence has come to light concerning Mickey Lee Davis - the man who likely shot Ricky Callahan to death.

The state convicted Moon based on purely circumstantial evidence, and the coincidence that Davis - whose trademark was shooting people in the head at close range - was near the crime scene on the night of the murder seems incredibly suspicious.

Evidence now shows that Davis admitted numerous times that he shot Callahan, but unfortunately for Moon, these confessions did not emerge until long after his conviction.

Davis died in a motorcycle accident shortly after Moon received his death sentence; mortally wounded and dying in the street, his final act alive was to pull a gun on the police officer who responded to the accident.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has the exclusive power to commute Moon’s sentence to life in prison, and judging by the lingering doubt surrounding the very basic facts of this case, the Board should most certainly do so.

Although a commutation from the Board would relieve the courts of some responsibility concerning this execution, they should weigh in regarding the blatant prosecutorial misconduct that dominated Moon’s trial. Attorneys trying the case for the state violated his rights at several critical junctures, most notably by withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense in order to paint an unfavorable picture of Moon’s past, and by striking the only black prospective juror on his selection panel.

Because the case was so weak, the state’s strategy in seeking the death penalty revolved around linking Moon to a second offense – the murder of Thomas DeJose in Tennessee – during the sentencing phase of the trial. Moon admitted to shooting DeJose, but claimed self-defense.

During the sentencing phase, Darryl Ehrlanger, who was DeJose’s fiancée, testified for the state. She had previously failed a lie detector test concerning the facts of the case, but the prosecutors never shared that information with the defense.

Furthermore, the prosecutors withheld critical evidence about DeJose, most importantly that he had spent time in prison for armed robbery, and that his autopsy revealed a blood alcohol level of .17 and signs of recent drug use. If the defense had learned about these facts, as they clearly should have under Brady v. Maryland (1963), they would have destroyed the credibility of the state’s story and seriously harmed its case for the death penalty.

Moon has a legitimate argument concerning racial discrimination in his trial as well. During jury selection, prosecutors used a peremptory strike to remove the one black prospective juror – Ms. Florence Harris. They cited two principle reasons for striking Ms. Harris: a) that a political controversy had created a great deal of anger in the black community toward the sheriff, and her family members might have been involved in some protests, and b) that she displayed a philosophical objection to the death penalty.

The first of these reasons is clearly grounds for a Batson claim, which Moon unsuccessfully argued in his appeal. In Batson v. Kentucky (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court held that prosecutors cannot strike jurors on racial grounds. Specifically, Moon’s argument finds precedent in a Georgia Supreme Court case – Congdon v. State (1993); that ruling banned peremptory strikes based on stereotypical beliefs that all members of an African-American share a biased view toward the sheriff.

The second reason cited by the state marks one of the fundamental flaws of the death penalty system in the United States. The fact that people opposed to the death penalty cannot serve on juries blatantly discriminates along racial lines. People of color oppose capital punishment more than white people do, and that exclusion allows prosecutors to seat juries that do not reflect a cross-section of society.

Throughout the appeals process, Moon has argued that his death sentence resulted in part from the ineffectiveness of his trial counsel. By any reasonable standards, he is correct in claiming that his attorneys should have investigated thoroughly enough to find the information on DeJose, so this argument has serious merit as well.

As in Moon’s case, Georgia typically schedules its executions only a few weeks prior to the date. This makes the task of notifying authorities even more difficult than usual, so please take action. Larry Moon is at a high risk of being executed; please contact the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and request as commutation of his sentence.

 
 

State Executes Man for Murder During Robbery

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

AP March 25, 2003

Jackson -- Larry Eugene Moon was executed Tuesday for the 1984 murder and robbery of a man who was buying aspirin for his wife at a convenience store. Moon, 57, was pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, south of Atlanta. It was the state's ninth execution by injection.

Moon's attorneys wrote last-minute appeals as the execution approached, arguing Moon was innocent of the crime. The Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a clemency request Tuesday.

Later in the day, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a motion for a stay of execution, although Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher dissented. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay less than an hour before the execution was scheduled to take place.

Moon was convicted of killing 34-year-old Ricky Callahan by shooting him twice in the head at close range in Catoosa County in 1984. Moon always maintained he was innocent of the crime, blaming a friend, Mickey Lee Davis, for framing him. In his final statement, Moon said, "I'm innocent, and I did not kill Ricky, I'll add."

The execution was witnessed by two of Moon's previous lawyers along with about 30 other witnesses. "He was very scared today. He was very nervous and agitated," said Peggy Chapman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. About a dozen death penalty opponents held a candlelight vigil outside the prison. "I don't support state-sanctioned executions for a man who has unresolved claims of innocence," said Maureen Gallagher, who took part in the vigil.

Moon declined to take a sedative before he was executed. He requested a last meal of steak, pork chops, potatoes, okra, corn, green beans, dinner rolls, walnut ice cream and iced tea, Chapman said. Moon was the 32nd person executed in Georgia since it brought back the death penalty in 1973.

When Moon was arrested, police found the murder weapon and some music tapes. No witnesses saw the crime. Moon has always maintained his innocence. Defense attorney Brian Mendelsohn said two men signed affidavits pinning the murder on Davis.

Davis died in 1988 in a motorcycle accident, two years after he escaped jail while awaiting his own murder trial. "Davis was a crazy man. If you looked at him the wrong way, he beat you to a pulp," Mendelsohn said. "I believe what happened is that Davis and Callahan had some words and Davis did what Davis was known to do, which was kill him." Davis then framed Moon by giving him Callahan's car and its contents, Mendelsohn said.

 
 

Nothing Can Justify Executing Innocent

By Laura Moye - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

How horrible it would be to execute an innocent person at the same time that we are being led into war with Iraq in the name of bringing greater freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. Georgia plans to execute Larry Moon on Tuesday amid a cloud of doubt about his guilt. If the state Board of Pardons and Paroles allows this execution to go forward, Georgia's conscience will be haunted by a nagging question -- did the state execute an innocent man?

Given that our state came within 40 hours of executing Henry Drake -- an innocent man -- in 1987 and was poised to execute five others who were fortunately exonerated before these tragic mistakes were brought to an irreversible conclusion, we should take seriously the possibility of executing an innocent person. Many politicians and legal experts note with alarm that more than 100 people have been exonerated from death row in the United States since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1973.

Even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is not opposed to the death penalty, recently conceded, "If the statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed."

Moon, like most people on death row, could not afford an attorney. His under-resourced, court-appointed lawyer did not have his case properly investigated. Additionally, prosecutors concealed important evidence from the defense and painted Moon as a violent criminal based on two crimes of which he was accused, but was never tried or convicted, and for which the existing evidence has been discredited.

While Moon was facing a death sentence, an alleged hit man named Mickey Lee Davis confessed to several people of the 1984 murder of Ricky Callahan -- the murder for which Moon faces death. Davis had once shot an elderly blind man point-blank in the head for money; his portrait appeared on FBI wanted posters; and he was a violent alcoholic. His final act before dying after a motorcycle accident was to pull a gun on a police officer who came to his aid while Davis lay in the street bleeding.

While we do not support the death penalty for any individual, the fact that Davis was riding on a motorcycle while Moon sat on death row raises questions about the accuracy and consistency of a system that is supposed to leave no reasonable doubt and send only the "worst of the worst" to death row. Callahan was senselessly robbed and murdered. Executing Moon with questions of innocence still looming cannot honor Callahan's memory nor advance justice. Instead it will compound tragedy with tragedy and undermine the criminal justice system.

The parole board should stop this execution. The Legislature should take a timeout on executions and examine a system with so many flaws that the possibility of executing an innocent person is imminent.

The General Assembly should also continue working toward progress for adequate indigent defense by passing sound reform legislation. Surely the worst reality of inadequate indigent defense is that the poor facing a death sentence do not receive an equal chance at justice. The world is watching the United States closely, especially as we have begun to drop bombs on Baghdad. Executing an innocent man would surely undermine our claim to moral leadership.

 
 

Man Slated for Execution Did Not Kill, Lawyers Say

By Bill Rankin - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

March 15, 2003

A Georgia inmate scheduled to be executed this month is not responsible for the killing that put him on death row, the condemned man's lawyer says. And the lawyer says he has two sworn statements to back the claim. On March 25, Larry Eugene Moon is scheduled to be the eighth Georgia inmate put to death by lethal injection. Moon, 57, was sentenced to death 15 years ago for killing 34-year-old Ricky Callahan on Nov. 24, 1984.

"This is the worst nightmare of capital punishment, having an innocent man face execution," one of Moon's lawyers, Brian Mendelsohn, said. Mendelsohn has produced sworn statements by two people who say a Tennessee man, Mickey Lee Davis, told them he was Callahan's killer. Davis, who was a friend of Moon's, died in 1988 after escaping from jail while awaiting trial on another murder charge.

Callahan was killed in Catoosa County, near the Tennessee border, after leaving his wife late in the evening to buy headache medicine. His body was found in a rock pit the next morning. He had been shot twice in the head. Although there were no eyewitnesses, there was strong evidence tying Moon to the crime. Moon had the murder weapon when he was arrested.

He was seen with Callahan's wallet on the night of the killing and was also tied to having driven Callahan's car. "Being in possession of a stolen car and its contents is not a capital crime," Mendelsohn said. "The capital crime was killing Ricky Callahan, and Mickey Davis admitted doing that." Moon has an extensive criminal history and has been accused of two other killings. He has admitted to one, saying it was self-defense. He was not convicted of either one.

Russ Willard, a spokesman for state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said his office believes Moon murdered Callahan. "The evidence against Moon is overwhelming," Willard said. "He was arrested at the end of a 30-day crime spree that included three murders, two armed robberies, three kidnappings and one rape." Moon has always denied killing Callahan and the sworn statements support that contention, Mendelsohn said.

One statement is from Davis' first cousin; the other is from Jimmy Ray Farley, who befriended Davis in jail in Sequatchie County, Tenn. "Mickey told me that Moon did not do that killing," Farley said in an affidavit signed March 6. "Mickey told me he shot and killed the man. . . . ."

At the time Farley said Davis told him that, Davis was in jail awaiting trial for the killing of Cletus Price. Police said Price's wife hired Davis to kill her husband on Oct. 23, 1984, at the couple's home in Dunlap, Tenn. Davis broke into the house and killed the 62-year-old man with a shotgun blast to the left eye as Price sat reading the Bible, police said.

The murder-for-hire scheme was hatched by Price's wife and her lover, both of whom were convicted for their roles. On Sept. 22, 1986, a few days before his death-penalty trial in the Price case, Davis escaped from the Sequatchie jail. He died almost two years later in a Chattanooga motorcycle accident.

Farley described Davis as a "cold-blooded" individual. "He had no guilt about what he did and did not feel bad about hurting people," Farley said.

Farley has been locked up since 2001 on a habitual violator charge. "I do not know Larry Moon," Farley said. "All I know about him is what Mickey told me." Davis's cousin, Joe Allen Gann, gave a sworn statement in 1995 and again in 1998 in testimony for Moon's federal appeal, which was denied last year.

Gann said he was with Davis in Louisiana when Davis called Tennessee and learned Moon was to be tried for capital murder in Catoosa County. When Davis got off the phone, he said "he knew that Larry Moon did not do the murder," Gann said. "He said that he did it." Moon's new lawyers say Davis was in Catoosa County at the time Callahan was killed. In a Jan. 12, 1988, report, the GBI listed Davis as a suspect in Callahan's killing.

One of Moon's trial attorneys at the time was Ralph Van Pelt, now a Superior Court judge in Ringgold. In an interview, Van Pelt called Moon one of the most uncooperative clients he ever had.

As for the new affidavits, Van Pelt said he did not know whether the Catoosa jury that sentenced Moon to death would have done anything different with the new testimony, given that both Gann and Farley have criminal records. Van Pelt noted that affidavits such as those given by Gann and Farley are not altogether uncommon in last-minute appeals raised by death-row inmates. "But sometimes they are true."

 
 

Catoosa Killer's Execution Set for March 25

Walker County Messenger

March 7, 2003

A man sentenced to death for a Catoosa County slaying is scheduled to die by injection on March 25. If carried out, he will be the eighth inmate put to death in Georgia by injection.

Larry Eugene Moon, 55, received the death penalty for the Nov. 24, 1984, murder of Ricky Allen Callahan of Graysville Road in Catoosa County. Moon is scheduled to die at 7 p.m. According to a 1984 interview with Catoosa County Sheriff's Department investigator Harold Groover:

Callahan was found dead Sunday, Nov. 24, from two .22-caliber gunshot wounds to the head. He worked at Crystal Springs Bleachery in Chickamauga and had a wife and child. Callahan was last seen around 10:30 p.m. Saturday when he left his home in a dark blue 1978 Ford LTD to "pick up some headache powders for his wife." The headache powders were found on the body, but his wallet, watch and car were missing. Estimated time of death was between 11 p.m. and midnight.

An unidentified man found Callahan's body near a chert pit just off Battlefield Parkway near I-75. The witness said he was at the chert pit to pick up aluminum cans and saw a large blood stain on the ground, then followed the "marks where something heavy dragged" to the victim's body in some nearby weeds.

After a nationwide hunt, law enforcement officials arrested Moon in Oneida, Tenn., on Dec. 14, 1984. He was driving the stolen LTD, with a number of weapons inside. Moon had been hiding in Georgia after committing a Tennessee murder.

 
 

Moon Maintains Innocence Until the End

By Catherine Edgemon - Walker County Messenger

March 25, 2003

About a dozen protesters gathered near the prison gate Tuesday in opposition to Moon's execution. (Staff photo/Catherine Edgemon) The warm, tranquil spring weather outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson Tuesday concealed the anxiety and fear convicted killer Larry Eugene Moon felt during his last hours. Two medical examiners declared Moon, 55, dead at 7:23 p.m., moments after his execution by lethal injection.

Moon was convicted of the 1984 murder of Ricky Callahan. Authorities said Moon abducted Callahan at gunpoint outside a convenience store in Indian Springs in Catoosa County. Moon took his 24-year-old victim to a secluded chert pit near Interstate 75, where he shot him twice in the head, stole his wallet and car, and left his body. “I am innocent,” Moon said in his final statement. “I did not kill Ricky Callahan.”

Scheree Lipscomb, public affairs director for the state Department of Corrections, said Moon was anxious and nervous Tuesday. He visited with his mother, sister, niece and pastor that afternoon and ate most of his final meal. Execution witness James Espy of the Dalton Daily Citizen said warden Frederick Head talked with Moon, whose lip was quivering, as he was strapped on the gurney. Espy could not hear the conversation, but believed the warden was trying to ease his fears and to be as kind as possible.

Moon refused a final prayer, Lipscomb said. He also refused offers of a sedative about one hour before the execution and again about 30 minutes before. The execution was “uneventful, and everything went smoothly as planned,” she said.

Don Earnhart, reporter for area radio station 92.1 FM, said he believes Operation Iraqi Freedom overshadowed the execution, which generated less public interest than previous executions there have. He has reported on about 20 executions, including eight in the last two years, he said.

Earnhart said throngs of death penalty opponents and proponents converged on the lawn at the prison’s entrance for past executions. As many as four or five television crews, in addition to several newspaper and radio stations, reported on executions in the past. Only a handful of media was on hand Tuesday. “There is less and less interest in it every time,” he said. “Now, you can’t even tell from the road (in front of the prison) that anything is going on.”

About a dozen death penalty opponents, including representatives with Amnesty International Inc. and Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, held a candlelight prayer vigil in front of the prison. According to Moon’s supporters, “the state convicted the wrong man.” Alleged hit man Mickey Lee Davis confessed to Callahan’s murder. He died in a motorcycle accident in 1988.

Laura Moye with the Amnesty International Atlanta office said she helped organize the prison vigil, one of nine conducted across the state. Moon’s vigil was the ninth death row inmate’s vigil she has attended. Based on her Christian faith and belief in human rights, she opposes the death penalty. She said the punishment is “not consistent with the Christian gospel,” which offers a message of redemption and forgiveness. She said she grew up in Hong Kong, where her parents were missionaries. While she sympathizes with Callahan’s family, she does not believe justice is served in any execution, particularly when unresolved questions of convict’s innocence persist.

Two inmates convicted in Walker County and one in Catoosa County remain on death row, according to the Department of Corrections. Jamie Ray Ward was sentenced to death in 1991 following his Walker County conviction for killing Nikia Kay Gilbreath, according to the Department of Corrections.

Wilburn Wiley Dobbs was sentenced to death in 1974 for killing a grocery store clerk in Walker County; a hearing to review motions in resentencing Dobbs will be held July 25. Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin has said he plans to seek the death penalty against Dobbs. Robert L. Collier was sentenced to death in Catoosa County in 1978, according to the Department of Corrections.

 
 

State Executes Convicted Killer

WSBTV News

AP March 26, 2003

JACKSON, Ga. -- Larry Eugene Moon clung to his claims of innocence until his last breath. Moon, 57, was killed by injection Tuesday night for the 1984 murder and robbery of 34-year-old Ricky Callahan as he was buying aspirin for his wife at a convenience store. "I'm innocent, and I did not kill Ricky, I'll add," Moon said in his final statement while strapped to the gurney, needles in his veins. As the chemicals flowed into his arm, Moon breathed deeply, yawned, closed his eyes and went to sleep. He was pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m.

Moon always maintained his innocence, blaming a friend, Mickey Lee Davis, for framing him. Police found the murder weapon and some of Callahan's music tapes when they arrested Moon.

No witnesses saw the crime. Moon's attorney, Charles Surasky, said two people had come forward saying that Davis confessed to them he committed the crime and then gave Callahan's car to Moon. Davis died in 1988 in a motorcycle accident, two years after he escaped jail while awaiting his own murder trial. "We've been representing him for 14 years, and he's always said the same thing," Surasky said. "It certainly seemed like we had enough evidence to create reasonable doubt."

About a dozen death penalty opponents lit candles and sang hymns outside the prison before praying in silence as the execution was taking place. "The citizens of Georgia do not have a place in putting people to death," said Trey Fouche of Milledgeville. "Georgia may be haunted by this particular execution. I think there's enough evidence to put it in doubt."

Moon was the ninth person executed in Georgia by injection and the 32nd person executed in Georgia since it brought back the death penalty in 1973. About 30 people witnessed the execution. Moon ate a last meal of steak, pork chops, potatoes, okra, corn, green beans, dinner rolls, walnut ice cream and iced tea, said Peggy Chapman, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. He declined to take a sedative.

Last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and Georgia Supreme Court were denied. On Monday, the Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a request to change his sentence to life imprisonment. Ralph Van Pelt, who represented Moon at his trial, said he was there to see the case through to its end. "There was reasonable doubt, failure to prove the case, and the indication there were other people who may have done it," he said. "Regardless of what is or isn't the truth, you stand by your client." Moon was accused of two other killings, but he wasn't tried for either. He was convicted on burglary, assault, escape, robbery and kidnapping charges.

 
 

State executes man for murder during robbery

Atlanta Journal Constitution

March 25, 2003

Jackson -- Larry Eugene Moon was executed Tuesday for the 1984 murder and robbery of a man who was buying aspirin for his wife at a convenience store. Moon, 57, was pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, south of Atlanta. It was the state's ninth execution by injection.

Moon's attorneys wrote last-minute appeals as the execution approached, arguing Moon was innocent of the crime. The Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a clemency request Tuesday.

Later in the day, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a motion for a stay of execution, although Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher dissented. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay less than an hour before the execution was scheduled to take place.

Moon was convicted of killing 34-year-old Ricky Callahan by shooting him twice in the head at close range in Catoosa County in 1984. Moon always maintained he was innocent of the crime, blaming a friend, Mickey Lee Davis, for framing him. In his final statement, Moon said, "I'm innocent, and I did not kill Ricky, I'll add."

The execution was witnessed by two of Moon's previous lawyers along with about 30 other witnesses. "He was very scared today. He was very nervous and agitated," said Peggy Chapman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. About a dozen death penalty opponents held a candlelight vigil outside the prison. "I don't support state-sanctioned executions for a man who has unresolved claims of innocence," said Maureen Gallagher, who took part in the vigil.

Moon declined to take a sedative before he was executed. He requested a last meal of steak, pork chops, potatoes, okra, corn, green beans, dinner rolls, walnut ice cream and iced tea, Chapman said. Moon was the 32nd person executed in Georgia since it brought back the death penalty in 1973.

When Moon was arrested, police found the murder weapon and some music tapes. No witnesses saw the crime. Moon has always maintained his innocence. Defense attorney Brian Mendelsohn said two men signed affidavits pinning the murder on Davis.

Davis died in 1988 in a motorcycle accident, two years after he escaped jail while awaiting his own murder trial. "Davis was a crazy man. If you looked at him the wrong way, he beat you to a pulp," Mendelsohn said. "I believe what happened is that Davis and Callahan had some words and Davis did what Davis was known to do, which was kill him." Davis then framed Moon by giving him Callahan's car and its contents, Mendelsohn said.

 
 

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Case Background

STOP GEORGIA FROM EXECUTING AN INNOCENT MAN

(Information provided by Mr. Moon's legal team)

The State of Georgia is preparing to execute Larry Eugene Moon, on March 25, 2003, for a crime he did not commit. Now 57 years-old, Larry Moon is on Georgia’s death row for the 1984 killing of Ricky Callahan in Ringgold, Georgia. However, Callahan was murdered by a small town hit man and drug addict named Mickey Lee Davis.

Compounding the manifest injustice of convicting Larry Moon for a crime he did not commit, Georgia sentenced him to death based on false and misleading testimony. Citing technicalities, the courts have refused to intervene in the case. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles may be Larry Moon’s last hope.

1. FACTS OF THE CASE

On the night of November 24, 1984, Ricky Callahan made a purchase at a convenience store in Ringgold, Georgia. The next morning, he was found dead in a gravel pit nearby. Callahan had been shot in the head at close range. No witnesses saw Callahan between the time he left the store and the time his body was discovered. Larry Moon was arrested three weeks later and charged with Callahan’s death.

No witness put Larry Moon and Ricky Callahan together and Mr. Moon’s fingerprints were not found on Callahan’s car. Mr. Moon has always denied killing Ricky Callahan and only circumstantial evidence was presented at his 1988 trial.

Mr. Moon has always denied killing Callahan because, in fact, Mickey Lee Davis did it. Davis, a professional hit man and a well known criminal from Chattanooga, confessed to killing Callahan. Davis was a dangerous, violent drug addict who robbed drug stores for money and Dilaudid to feed his addiction. Davis’s trademark was shooting people in the head at close range, just as Callahan was killed.

Witnesses have placed Davis in the area around the convenience store at the end of November, 1984. Davis was in Ringgold hiding from the police because a few weeks earlier, he committed the murder-for-hire of Cletus Price in Dunlap, Tennessee. Hired by Price’s wife, Davis broke into Price’s home and shot the elderly, blind man in the head at close range as Price sat reading his Bible.

After killing Callahan, Davis fled to Louisiana with his cousin Joe Gann. According to sworn testimony of Gann, while in hiding in Louisiana, Davis learned that Mr. Moon had been charged with the Callahan murder. Davis confessed to Gann that Davis committed the murder that Mr. Moon was charged with.

Davis remained a fugitive until August 3, 1985 when he was arrested for the murder of Cletus Price. While in jail, Davis again confessed to fellow inmates that he murdered Ricky Callahan and that Larry Moon was innocent of the crime.

On September 19, 1986, a week before his death penalty trial for the Price murder was to begin, Davis escaped from the county jail using a homemade key. He remained at large until July, 1988 (six months after Mr. Moon’s trial), when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. Mortally wounded and bleeding on the street, Davis’s last act before dying was to pull a gun on the police officer who responded to the motorcycle accident.

2. LARRY MOON IS SLATED TO DIE FOR A CRIME HE DID NOT COMMIT

The injustice of this situation is undeniable: Larry Moon is about to be executed for a murder committed by another man. Few mistakes made by government officials can equal the horror of executing an innocent person. The death penalty is unique among criminal punishments because it is irreversible. Given the irreversible nature of the punishment, if there is even a question about Larry’s guilt, fundamental human decency requires the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to intervene and stop the execution.

The jury that convicted Larry Moon and sentenced him to die did not know the facts about Mickey Davis. While Davis’s name was mentioned by a witness, the defense attorneys did not know, and thus the jurors were not told, that Davis was a hit man with a long and notorious criminal record who was on the run for a murder at the time Callahan was killed.

Although, the prosecution and the police did know, they did not tell. Because the defense attorneys did not investigate the case in any significant way, they did not know about Davis’s confession either.

Studies have shown that lingering doubt about a defendant’s guilt is a key factor in a jury’s decision to sentence a defendant to life rather than death. If the Mickey Davis evidence had been presented at trial, Larry Moon likely would not have been convicted and certainly would not have been sentenced to death.

3. IN ADDITION TO WRONGLY PROSECUTING AN INNOCENT MAN, THE STATE OBTAINED A DEATH SENTENCE BY PRESENTING FALSE AND UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE AT TRIAL

In the years since Larry Moon’s trial, the State’s case for the death penalty has been revealed to be a fraud and a sham. His death sentence is based on false testimony and improperly admitted unreliable evidence. Moreover, in addition to hiding the evidence about Mickey Davis, the police and the prosecutors hid evidence showing that their case for the death penalty was false and misleading. In short, Larry Moon’s death sentence is a shameful mockery of justice.

At the sentencing phase of trial, the state tried to prove that Mr. Moon committed two other murders for which he has never been tried. The first alleged murder involved a shooting outside a bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There were no witnesses to this murder and no physical evidence connecting Mr. Moon to the crime. The Tennessee prosecutor handling this case refused to prosecute Mr. Moon because the case against him was “fairly weak.” Despite the acknowledged lack of evidence against Mr. Moon, the Georgia prosecutors misled the sentencing jury into thinking that Mr. Moon had committed this murder. Once again, Larry’s lawyers did nothing.

The second uncharged “murder” presented to the sentencing jury involved the death of Thomas DeJose in Cocke County, Tennessee. DeJose was shot about a week after Ricky Callahan was killed. Mr. Moon admitted shooting DeJose, but has always maintained that he shot DeJose in self-defense as DeJose and Darryl Ehrlanger attempted to rob him at knife-point. A knife was found next to DeJose’s body.

Larry Moon was never prosecuted in this case because the police and prosecutors in Tennessee knew that this was in fact a self-defense case and that Ehrlanger’s statements to the contrary were untrue. Though Ehrlanger offered emotionally powerful testimony that had a significant impact on the jury’s decision to sentence Larry Moon to death, her testimony was a fraud and the prosecution team knew it. Ehrlanger failed a polygraph test on the incident and the Georgia Courts have found that Ehrlanger’s story, and testimony at Mr. Moon’s trial, was a lie. The Georgia courts have also found that a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent misled the jury and when he failed to report significant evidence that showed this was a self-defense case and that Ehrlanger was a liar.

Unfortunately, instead of informing the jury, the court, and the defense that Ehrlanger was a liar and their law enforcement witness was hiding evidence, the prosecution remained silent and allowed Larry Moon to go to death row. When a man’s life is at stake, fairness and justice demand more from our court system.

Visit the Larry Moon website: www.larrymoon.org

 
 

Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal

EXTRA 18/03 Death penalty / Legal concern 10 March 2003

USA (Georgia) Larry Eugene Moon (m), white, aged 57

Larry Eugene Moon is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on 25 March 2003. He was sentenced to death in Catoosa County in January 1988 for the murder of Ricky Callahan, white, in November 1984.

Ricky Callahan was found dead in a gravel pit in northern Georgia near the border with Tennessee on 25 November 1984. He had been shot in the head. According to Moon’s current clemency petition, the state convicted the wrong man. It claims that although there was circumstantial evidence against Larry Moon, he is innocent of the killing, and that a professional hit man, Mickey Lee Davis, was responsible.

Davis was on the run from the authorities at the time of the Callahan murder having allegedly committed the murder-for-hire of Cletus Price in Tennessee a few weeks earlier. Cletus Price had been shot in the head. Hiding in Louisiana after the Callahan killing, Mickey Davis is said to have confessed to his cousin that he had killed Callahan. After being arrested in 1985 for the murder of Cletus Price, Davis also allegedly confessed to fellow inmates that he had killed Ricky Callahan. Davis later escaped from jail, and was killed in a motorcycle accident in July 1988.

Larry Moon’s trial for the murder of Ricky Callahan did not take place until 1988 because he was in custody in Tennessee and had to be extradited from there.

After the jury found him guilty of the Callahan murder, the trial moved into a separate sentencing phase, the phase of a US capital trial when the state argues for execution and the defence argues for leniency. In this case, the prosecution bolstered its case for execution by presenting evidence that Moon had committed two other murders in Tennessee within a month of the Callahan killing.

Before the Georgia trial, Larry Moon had been sentenced to life imprisonment in Tennessee on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping in other crimes, but he was never tried in either of the two killings used by the prosecution at his 1988 sentencing.

In the first case levelled against Larry Moon by the prosecution, the murder of Jimmy Hutcheson outside a bar on 15 November 1984, the charges were dropped because of lack of evidence. Neither was Larry Moon prosecuted for the second killing, that of Thomas DeJose on 2 December 1984.

Larry Moon admitted shooting Thomas DeJose, but maintained that it was an act of self-defence when DeJose tried to rob him at knifepoint. Larry Moon’s appeals have argued that one of the state’s witnesses at the sentencing phase, an officer with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), had failed to reveal certain information about the DeJose killing which supported Moon’s self-defence claim.

Firstly the TBI had run a background check on DeJose and found that he had an armed robbery conviction and had fled New York to avoid a six-month prison sentence on a drunk driving conviction. Secondly, DeJose was drunk at the time he died and that the autopsy showed him to be an intravenous drug user who had used drugs shortly before his death. Thirdly, the TBI agent failed to reveal that the state’s eyewitness to the killing, DeJose’s girlfriend Daryl Ehrlanger, who was aiding DeJose’s flight from New York prison, had failed a lie detector test.

On appeal, a county Superior Court judge found that Daryl Ehrlanger’s evidence was “by all accounts, the most damaging testimony" against Larry Moon at the sentencing phase. However, the court found that the evidence strongly supported the claim that Ehrlanger had lied and that this was a self-defence case.

It found that Larry Moon’s trial lawyer had been constitutionally ineffective for failing to adequately investigate the DeJose killing, and that the prosecution had acted unconstitutionally by failing to disclose the exculpatory evidence. However, in 1994, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision and the conviction and death sentence have survived the remaining appeals process intact.

In 2001, in another case, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found that the use of evidence of untried crimes at a capital sentencing violated the USA’s international obligations. It called on the US authorities to act, “in particular by prohibiting the introduction of evidence of unadjudicated crimes during the sentencing phase of capital trials”. On 6 January 2003, the IACHR issued “precautionary measures” in Larry Moon’s case urging that he not be executed pending the Commission’s consideration of the unadjudicated crimes issue in his case.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, regardless of issues of guilt or innocence, or the seriousness of the crime. There is growing concern in the USA about the reliability of the capital justice system after more than 100 people have been released from death rows after evidence of their innocence emerged.

A landmark study of 23 years of US death penalty cases, published by Columbia University in 2000, found that capital cases were characterized by serious errors in convictions and sentences, and that the main errors were inadequate legal representation and the withholding of evidence by police and prosecutors. International standards require that capital defendants be afforded adequate legal representation at all stages of proceedings; that prosecutors act fairly, consistently and without any discrimination; and that no execution be allowed to proceed where there is any doubt about the guilt of the condemned prisoner. Today 111 countries are abolitionist in law or practice. Since resuming executions in 1977, the USA has executed more than 830 prisoners.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

--Stop Action-- Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:

- expressing sympathy for the family and friends of Ricky Callahan, and explaining that you are not seeking to condone the manner of his death or the suffering it will have caused;

- opposing the execution of Larry Moon calling for clemency;

- noting with concern evidence raised by the appeal lawyers that Mickey Lee Davis, an alleged professional hit man, confessed to the murder;

- expressing concern that the prosecution used evidence of unadjudicated crimes at Larry Moon’s sentencing phase, a practice which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has condemned, noting that the Commission has called on the authorities to stay Larry Moon’s execution;

- expressing concern that the jury was left unaware of evidence which supported Larry Moon’s claim that he had shot Thomas DeJose in self-defence, and noting that a Georgia court found that Larry Moon’s trial lawyer had failed to investigate this evidence and the prosecution had acted improperly in failing to disclose it.

 
 

Larry Moon Homepage

STOP GEORGIA FROM EXECUTING AN INNOCENT MAN

Papal Nuncio Requests Clemency For Larry Moon

Letter from Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo

The State of Georgia is preparing to execute Larry Eugene Moon, on March 25, 2003, for a crime he did not commit. Now 57 years-old, Larry Moon is on Georgia’s death row for the 1984 killing of Ricky Callahan in Ringgold, Georgia. However, Callahan was murdered by a small town hit man and drug addict named Mickey Lee Davis . Compounding the manifest injustice of convicting Larry Moon for a crime he did not commit, Georgia sentenced him to death based on false and misleading testimony. Citing technicalities, the courts have refused to intervene in the case. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles may be Larry Moon’s last hope.

FACTS OF THE CASE

On the night of November 24, 1984, Ricky Callahan made a purchase at a convenience store in Ringgold, Georgia. The next morning, he was found dead in a gravel pit nearby. Callahan had been shot in the head at close range and his car had been stolen. No witnesses saw Callahan between the time he left the store and the time his body was discovered. Larry Moon was arrested three weeks later and charged with Callahan’s death.

No witness put Larry Moon and Ricky Callahan together and Mr. Moon’s fingerprints were not found on Callahan’s car. Mr. Moon has always denied killing Ricky Callahan and only circumstantial evidence was presented at his 1988 trial.

Mr. Moon has always denied killing Callahan because, in fact, Mickey Lee Davis did it. Davis, a professional hit man and a well known criminal from Chattanooga, confessed to killing Callahan. Davis was a dangerous, violent drug addict who robbed drug stores for money and Dilaudid to feed his addiction. Davis’s trademark was shooting people in the head at close range, just as Callahan was killed.

Witnesses have placed Davis in the area around the convenience store at the end of November, 1984. Davis was in Ringgold hiding from the police because a few weeks earlier, he committed the murder-for-hire of Cletus Price in Dunlap, Tennessee. Hired by Price’s wife, Davis broke into Price’s home and shot the elderly, blind man in the head at close range as Price sat reading his Bible.

After killing Callahan, Davis fled to Louisiana with his cousin Joe Gann. According to sworn testimony of Gann, while in hiding in Louisiana, Davis learned that Mr. Moon had been charged with the Callahan murder. Davis confessed to Gann that Davis committed the murder that Mr. Moon was charged with.

Larry Moon was tried for the murder of Ricky Callahan during January 1988. At the time of Larry Moon's trial, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation knew that Mickey Lee Davis was a suspect in the Ricky Callahan case. Unfortunately, the GBI never gave this crucial information to Larry Moon's defense attorneys.

Davis remained a fugitive until August 3, 1985 when he was arrested for the murder of Cletus Price. While in jail, Davis again confessed to fellow inmates that he murdered Ricky Callahan and that Larry Moon was innocent of the crime.

On September 19, 1986, a week before his death penalty trial for the Price murder was to begin, Davis escaped from the county jail. He remained at large until July, 1988 (six months after Mr. Moon’s trial), when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. Mortally wounded and bleeding on the street, Davis’s last act before dying was to pull a gun on the police officer who responded to his motorcycle accident.

LARRY MOON IS SLATED TO DIE FOR A CRIME HE DID NOT COMMIT

The injustice of this situation is undeniable: Larry Moon is about to be executed for a murder committed by another man. Few mistakes made by government officials can equal the horror of executing an innocent person. The death penalty is unique among criminal punishments because it is irreversible. Given the irreversible nature of the punishment, if there is even a question about Larry’s guilt, fundamental human decency requires the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to intervene and stop the execution.

The jury that convicted Larry Moon and sentenced him to die did not know the facts about Mickey Davis. While Davis’s name was mentioned by a witness, the defense attorneys did not know, and thus the jurors were not told, that Davis was a hit man with a long and notorious criminal record who was on the run for a murder at the time Callahan was killed. Although, the prosecution and the police did know, they did not tell. Because the defense attorneys did not investigate the case in any significant way, they did not know about Davis’ confession.

Studies have shown that lingering doubt about a defendant’s guilt is a key factor in a jury’s decision to sentence a defendant to life rather than death. If the Mickey Davis evidence had been presented at trial, Larry Moon likely would not have been convicted and certainly would not have been sentenced to death.

IN ADDITION TO WRONGLY PROSECUTING AN INNOCENT MAN, THE STATE OBTAINED A DEATH SENTENCE BY PRESENTING FALSE AND UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE AT TRIAL

In the years since Larry Moon’s trial, the State’s case for the death penalty has been revealed to be a fraud and a sham. His death sentence is based on false testimony and improperly admitted unreliable evidence. Moreover, in addition to hiding the evidence about Mickey Davis, the police and the prosecutors hid evidence showing that their case for the death penalty was false and misleading. In short, Larry Moon’s death sentence is a shameful mockery of justice.

At the sentencing phase of trial, the state tried to prove that Mr. Moon committed two other murders for which he has never been tried. The first alleged murder involved a shooting outside a bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There were no witnesses to this murder and no physical evidence connecting Mr. Moon to the crime. The Tennessee prosecutor handling this case refused to prosecute Mr. Moon because the case against him was "fairly weak." Despite the acknowledged lack of evidence against Mr. Moon, the Georgia prosecutors misled the sentencing jury into thinking that Mr. Moon had committed this murder. Once again, Larry’s lawyers did nothing.

The second uncharged "murder" presented to the sentencing jury involved the death of Thomas DeJose in Cocke County, Tennessee. DeJose was shot about a week after Ricky Callahan was killed. Mr. Moon admitted shooting DeJose, but has always maintained that he shot DeJose in self-defense as DeJose and Darryl Ehrlanger attempted to rob him at knife-point. A knife was found next to DeJose’s body.

Larry Moon was never prosecuted in this case because the police and prosecutors in Tennessee knew that this was in fact a self-defense case and that Ms. Ehrlanger’s statements to the contrary were untrue. Though Ms. Ehrlanger offered emotionally powerful testimony that had a significant impact on the jury’s decision to sentence Larry Moon to death, her testimony was a fraud and the prosecution team knew it. Ms. Ehrlanger failed a polygraph test on the incident and the Georgia Courts have found that Ms. Ehrlanger’s story, and testimony at Mr. Moon’s trial, was a lie. The Georgia courts have also found that a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Agent misled the jury when he failed to report significant evidence that showed this was a self-defense case and that Ms. Ehrlanger was a liar.

Unfortunately, instead of informing the jury, the court, and the defense that Ms. Ehrlanger was a liar and their law enforcement witness was hiding evidence, the prosecution remained silent and allowed Larry Moon to go to death row. When a man’s life is at stake, fairness and justice demand more from our court system.

YOU CAN HELP SAVE LARRY MOON

Executing Larry Moon for a crime he did not commit after an unfair and corrupt trial would be a travesty. Under Georgia law, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has the exclusive power to commute Larry Moon’s sentence of death to life in prison.

 
 

Moon v. State, 375 S.E.2d 442 (Ga. 1988). (Direct Appeal)

The appellant, Larry Eugene Moon, was convicted by a jury in Catoosa County of murder and armed robbery. He was sentenced to death for the murder. The crime was committed November 24, 1984. Moon fled the state. He was returned to Georgia from Tennessee on September 3, 1987, and this case was tried January 11 through 21, 1988. A motion for new trial was filed on February 3, 1988, and denied March 30, 1988. The case was docketed in this court on April 18, 1988, and oral arguments were heard June 27, 1988.

At 10:30 p.m. on November 24, 1984, the victim, Ricky Callahan, drove a 1978 Ford LTD to a convenience store to purchase headache medicine for his wife. He never returned. His body was found the next morning in a chert pit, shot twice in the head.

Larry Moon left his motel room late in the evening of November 24, 1984, for the announced purpose of making a telephone call. He returned later, driving the victim's car. He removed approximately $60 from the victim's wallet, and discarded the wallet. Moon and his companion then drove to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she left him. On November 26, 1984, a 1980 Buick Riviera was stolen from the parking lot of a shopping mall in Decatur, Alabama. The Callahan car was discovered abandoned three miles west of Decatur, Alabama, on November 28, 1984.

On December 14, 1984, a 1982 Buick LeSabre was stolen from a parking lot in Oneida, Tennessee. The local police knew the owner and the car, and it was soon spotted in Oneida. After a high-speed chase through the surrounding countryside, the police apprehended the car and its driver, Larry Moon. A number of guns were recovered from the interior of the stolen automobile, including one later identified as the murder weapon in this case.

Soon after Moon's capture, the police recovered from another parking lot in Oneida the 1980 Buick Riviera that had been stolen in Decatur, Alabama. The keys to this car were found on Moon when he was arrested. Inside this car were cassette tapes that had been inside Callahan's Ford LTD before it was stolen. At the sentencing phase of the trial, the state offered additional evidence about Moon's activities before and after Ricky Callahan was murdered.

On November 15, 1984, Moon shot and killed Jimmy Hutcheson at Brown's Tavern in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He left Chattanooga and went to Catoosa County, Georgia, where the Callahan homicide occurred on November 24, 1984.

He returned to Chattanooga and at 3:00 a.m. on December 1, 1984, he robbed at gunpoint Peeper's Adult Bookstore in Chattanooga. While there, he kidnapped Terry Lee Elkins (who was a female impersonator). Moon drove back to Georgia on Interstate 75, left the interstate and drove fifteen miles into the country, stopped the car, and sodomized his captive by the side of the road, threatening to kill him if he refused to submit.

Moon returned his captive to Chattanooga, and drove to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Shortly after midnight on December 2, 1984, Moon (still driving the Buick Riviera he had stolen in Alabama) offered a ride to Darryl Ehrlanger and her fiance Thomas DeJosa. She worked in a restaurant in Gatlinburg and had just gotten off work. Moon took them almost to their home outside of Gatlinburg, stopped the car, and tried to drag Ehrlanger out of the car. When DeJosa attempted to rescue her, Moon shot him. DeJosa ordered her to run into the woods. When she did, Moon fired several shots at her.

He then shot DeJosa three more times and left. By the time Ehrlanger reached DeJosa, he was dead. On December 7, 1984, Moon was back in Chattanooga, where he robbed at gunpoint a convenience store owned by Ray York, taking over $900 from the store as well as the owner's billfold and his .357 magnum pistol. The pistol was recovered from inside the car Moon was driving when he was arrested.

1. The court did not deliver one of Moon's requested charges on circumstantial evidence. However, the principles of the requested charge were covered in substance by the charge delivered by the trial court. The refusal to give the exact language of Moon's request was not error. Price v. State, 180 Ga.App. 215(2), 348 S.E.2d 740 (1986) As the court's charge covered the principles of the requested charge, Moon was not misled to his detriment by the court's somewhat ambiguous indication that the requested instruction would be given. Compare Goins v. State, 177 Ga.App. 536, 339 S.E.2d 790 (1986)

2. From the time of his arrest until shortly before this trial, Moon remained in Tennessee while some of the criminal charges pending there were disposed of. In February of 1987, Moon was transferred to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee, to begin serving a life sentence. The district attorney in this case filed detainers and a "Request for Temporary Custody" under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD). See OCGA § 42-6-20 et seq. Tennessee authorities suggested that since the death penalty was being sought in the Catoosa County case, Georgia should pursue Moon's return by means other than the IAD. An executive agreement was signed by the governors of Tennessee and Georgia providing for Moon's return and providing that if Moon did not receive a death sentence, Moon should be returned to Tennessee following the conclusion of the Georgia proceedings. Moon contested his extradition until August of 1987.

 
 

Zant v. Moon, 440 S.E.2d 657 (Ga. 1994). (State Habeas)

At the sentencing hearing, the state introduced evidence of a homicide committed by Moon in Tennessee. A witness, Daryl Ehrlanger, testified that she and her boyfriend, Tommy DeJose, accepted a ride from Moon. She further related that she escaped after Moon stopped the car and shot DeJose in the head.

According to trial counsel, Ms. Ehrlanger's testimony was powerful and probably the most damaging to Moon's sentencing case. In its order granting relief to Petitioner, the habeas court noted that Moon's new counsel had uncovered substantial evidence that Ehrlanger had lied and that Moon killed DeJose in self-defense. Petitioner alleges that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to counter the state's case in aggravation. Petitioner argues that the testimony of Daryl Ehrlanger on the DeJose incident would have been avoided had trial counsel adequately investigated the incident.

The habeas court characterized Ehrlanger's testimony as "by all accounts, the most damaging testimony against petitioner." Although the habeas court ruled that counsel's conduct was unprofessional and violated Petitioner's constitutional rights, we reverse. We find that Petitioner has failed to show that there was a reasonable probability that, but for trial counsel's unprofessional errors, the jury would have reached a different result.

During the sentencing phase, the State called David Davenport of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Davenport failed to reveal that the TBI had run a criminal background check on DeJose. This check revealed that DeJose had served 29 months in prison for an armed robbery conviction. Mr. Davenport failed to reveal that DeJose was a fugitive from the state of New York and that Ehrlanger was aiding DeJose in his escape from imprisonment. Furthermore, Mr. Davenport failed to reveal that DeJose's blood alcohol level was .17 at the time of his death and that the autopsy revealed signs of recent drug use. Finally, Mr. Davenport failed to reveal that Ehrlanger had failed a TBI lie detector test.

In close cases, where the evidence presented by the state is thin, mistakes made by trial counsel take on greater significance. Such is not the case here. Ehrlanger's testimony was not the only evidence submitted in aggravation. The jury had already found Moon guilty of murdering Ricky Callahan in the commission of an armed robbery. The state also introduced evidence that prior to killing Ricky Callahan in Georgia, Moon had shot and killed Jimmy Hutcheson in Tennessee.

The State also presented evidence that Moon robbed the Peeper's Adult Bookstore at gunpoint and kidnaped Terry Elkins, taking him into Georgia sodomizing him, and threatening to kill him if he refused to submit. Less than a week after the DeJose incident, Moon robbed a convenience store at gunpoint, taking over $900 and the owner's .357 Magnum handgun.

The jury had also been presented with prior convictions of the Petitioner, including an assault with a razor, assault with a pistol, four burglaries, and an escape after being convicted for assault with intent to murder.

The evidence presented by the state, even ignoring the DeJose incident, shows the Petitioner's proclivity toward violence. We disagree with the finding of the habeas court that there is a reasonable probability the jury would have reached a different result.

The Petitioner carries the burden of showing a reasonable probability that, but for the alleged ineffectiveness of counsel, the result of the hearing would have been different. The evidence at the habeas hearing does not support Petitioner's burden, and we reverse.