Friday Feb 27 2009
Defense claims Moon deserves a new trial
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Family prays their son will not be sentenced in March
---------- Editor’s note: See "Prosecution rebuts ‘ludicrous’ claims by Moon defense" for the prosecution's perspective. ---------- In an effort to spare a young life, family and friends are sending letters and packing a Placer County courtroom to stand behind a 24-year-old Auburn man who may have to spend most of his adult life behind bars. While the prosecution prepares their response to a motion for a new trial in the case against William “Billy” Moon, Moon’s supporters hold out hope that their son, grandson, brother, cousin, boyfriend and friend will not be sentenced in March to a possible 15 years to life term in state prison. In his motion for a new trial, defense attorney Dennis Riordan outlines his argument that Moon’s convictions should be vacated and a new trial set. On Feb. 19, prosecutor Stephanie Macumber asked Judge Larry Gaddis to continue the sentencing so she could have more time to review and respond to the 40-page motion for a new trial. As Judge Larry Gaddis agreed to continue the sentencing to a later date, Moon’s father, David Moon, sat on the edge of his seat directly behind his son, listening. Since the beginning of the trial, David Moon and his wife, Vada, have vigilantly stood behind their son. They were in the courtroom for most if not all of the process, including jury selection, witness testimony, and opening and closing arguments. And on an emotional October afternoon, they clung to their son for as long as they could before he was remanded into custody after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Moon was charged with the June 3, 2006, death of Placer High School graduate Stewart Shapton. It was a night when both boys, who were reportedly highly intoxicated, arguably made the decision to climb into David Moon’s 2004 Infiniti G35. They sped down a rural, winding road reaching speeds of 103.3 mph and launched off a hill on Bell Road, just south of Hubbard Road. When the car landed, it lost control, violently veered off road and slammed into several oak trees lining the side of the road. Throughout the trial, the defense argued that William Moon was never the one behind the wheel. In Riordan’s motion, he argues that the weight of the evidence used in the trial was not sufficient to prove that William Moon, if he truly was driving, was aware that he knew his actions were dangerous yet proceeded anyway, which was a factor in the second-degree murder charge. Riordan also alleges that the prosecution violated a criminal code that prevented the defense from presenting “critical” rebuttal evidence. The defense says the prosecution presented an injury on Moon that wasn’t ever there. The prosecution refutes the defense’s claims and stands behind their case, according to Steven Dragland, who currently supervises the District Attorney’s felony unit. Dragland was the supervisor of the driving under the influence/misdemeanor unit while Macumber was presenting her case in court. On March 19, a decision is scheduled to be made about William Moon’s fate. In the meantime, he’ll wait in custody at Placer County Jail, where he’s still helping his girlfriend with her homework over the phone, where he attends church service every week and where he talks to his parents and friends twice a week during visiting hours. In a letter to Judge Gaddis, David Moon writes that his son has never been in a fight before, and the second-degree conviction is more than any of William Moon’s family members can bear. He tells Gaddis that the family prays he will consider the motion and grant a new trial. In the final paragraph of his five-page letter to Gaddis, David Moon writes, “In the event that you chose not to grant Billy a new trial, we pray to God and beg you that you will have compassion for our beloved son and brother who has brought joy to the lives of everyone that has known him his entire life and who has so much to offer this world.” William “Billy” Moon will appear in Placer County Superior Court at 8:15 a.m. March 19 in Dept. 44 of the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville. The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at email@example.com or post a comment.