Testimony begins in trial of presumed 2009 killing in Mahoning County

Opening statements heat up cold case

Staff photos / Ed Runyan Robert L. Moore, right, sits with his attorney, Lou DeFabio, on Tuesday during testimony in Moore’s murder trial in a 2009 cold case involving the disappearance and presumed murder of 16-year-old Glenna J. White, 16, from a home on Alden Avenue in Mahoning County, between Sebring and Alliance.

YOUNGSTOWN — Opening statements in the Robert L. Moore murder trial laid bare facts the prosecution and defense would have preferred the jury not hear as the trial resumes today.

Moore, 53, of the Alliance area, is charged with killing Glenna J. White, 16, after Moore drove her from a home on Alden Avenue in Smith Township June 2, 2009, allegedly to take her home, but Glenna was never seen again.

First, the prosecution talked about evidence the jurors will hear about Moore having been previously convicted of killing a female in 1993.

Pat Fening, assistant county prosecutor, told jurors that prosecutors are “allowed to use this evidence to establish a behavioral fingerprint, put in other words as modus operandi or M.O. and that is signature fingerprint-like characteristics unique enough to suggest that the prior act and the current crime were committed by the same person.”

Fening said the evidence will show that “in 1993, (Moore) was out with a woman younger than him for a night of drinking. The defendant convinced the woman to go home with him.” Fening said Moore gave her a ride and “made sexual advances on the victim, which were rejected by her. The victim attempted to escape by running away.”

Fening said that in response, Moore “chased her down, beat her to death with his bare hands, walked her to waist-high water, dumped her body in the Berlin Reservoir and weighed her down with a log.”

Lou DeFabio, Moore’s attorney, said in his opening statement that it was clear that the prosecution also has something they would rather jurors not hear.

It is that a key witness, who provides much of the evidence suggesting that Moore may have harmed Glenna, had her own trouble with the law not long ago.

DeFabio told jurors that the witness was “in some serious trouble” last year, though “nothing happened.” And DeFabio said a detective “tried to get her a low bond so she could get out of jail because they need her for this case, because that is their case.”

DeFabio said the witness also “gave inconsistent statements throughout” the investigation and also “was caught in a lie” as to whether she “got into a fight with Glenna that night.”

Fening told jurors that Glenna had been at the home on Alden with her boyfriend and other friends on June 2, 2009. It was the home of Deanna Shreve, girlfriend of Robert L. Moore, and Moore was there, where he lived. The people were drinking and then they went to bed.

A while later, Glenna “wakes up Erica Teis, screaming the defendant had just tried to rape her,” Fening said. “At this point, Glenna just wants to go home, the broken home she has run away from so many times. That’s how terrified she was of the defendant that evening.”

But Moore “insists on taking her home alone,” and they left in Shreve’s car for Glenna’s mother’s home on Webb Avenue in Alliance, Fening said.

Fening noted that the case started as a missing person’s case, and Stark County law enforcement officers started following up on reports of people thinking they had seen the girl, but nothing panned out.

Fourteen months later, in August 2010, Teis saw a missing-persons flyer and gave a statement to police about the things that happened June 2, 2009. The case was transferred to the Smith Township Police Department in Mahoning County, and it became a homicide investigation, Fening said. Physical evidence was then collected at the Alden Avenue home. However, the vehicle that Moore drove with Glenna inside had been destroyed by that time in a fire.

Fening acknowledged that prosecutors do not have a body, but what they do have is “Glenna leaving the house with the defendant that night, we have the defendant returning home later, covered in blood from the waist up, mud from the knees down. He has no injuries that would cause that much blood.”

DeFabio said that because Glenna was never found, the prosecution is never going to have “evidence of a cause of death, place of death, manner of death, they don’t have a stitch of clothing, they have absolutely no scientific evidence to substantiate what they are saying.”

The first witness in the case was Elizabeth White, Glenna’s mother, who acknowledged that she was not a good mother to Glenna because of Elizabeth’s mental health issues and drinking problems. Glenna lived with Elizabeth’s mother for the first 10 years of Glenna’s life because Elizabeth could not take care of her.

Glenna suffered from a variety of mental health issues as a child, including multiple personalities and tried to commit suicide, Elizabeth testified.

Have an interesting story? Email Ed Runyan at erunyan@vindy.com


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