Thursday Sep 11 2008
Trial starts for Auburn man accused of murder
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Defense, Prosecution argue over identity of driver in fatal crash
More than two years after a fatal crash resulted in the death of a Placer High school graduate, those involved with the accident, and those impacted by it, began to relive the day in court on Thursday. The trial for Auburn’s William “Billy” Moon started Thursday morning once a jury of five men, seven women and three alternates was selected. Moon, 23, is charged with second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, both of which are felony counts for the June 3, 2006 death of his close friend, 20-year-old Stewart Shapton. Moon has pleaded not guilty. On Thursday, the defense and prosecution issued their opening statements, and the prosecution called two witnesses. The main issue contended by both sides is who was driving the 2004 Infiniti G35 that was reportedly traveling at 103.4 mph on Bell Road in rural Auburn that night. Prosecutor Stephanie Macumber called to the stand a first responder who was at the scene the night of the accident. South Placer County fireman Matthew Desideri testified that he approached the vehicle, which was laying on the passenger side and in a ditch. He looked in the window and saw multiple people inside. “We knew right away it was going to be a jaw’s call,” Desideri said. After Desideri used the Jaws of Life to remove the roof, he said he found Moon with his feet in the front of the car and his head toward the rear of the car. Moon was making slight movements and noises, Desideri said on the stand. Shapton, however, was “totally lifeless” and buckled into the passenger’s side seat, Desideri testified. Desideri said he had to use a knife to cut the seatbelt straps to remove Shapton from that seat. Shapton was pronounced dead at the scene. Macumber said there is also DNA evidence that will prove that a mass on the passenger’s headrest was that of Shapton’s. Moon’s Sacramento defense attorney Clyde Blackmon argued during his opening statements that the injuries sustained by Shapton prove he was the driver that night, not Moon. He said an autopsy revealed Shapton suffered a broken clavicle, four fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis and his head was fractured into eight pieces. He also suffered internal injuries to his heart, lungs and incurred a lacerated liver. He discussed how the driver’s side of the car was more severely damaged in the accident and was the first to hit several oak trees. The driver’s side was crushed inward, Blackmon said. In comparison, Moon’s injuries were less severe. The then-21-year-old was life-flighted to Sutter-Roseville hospital and remained there for five days as he was treated for a concussion, a laceration to the back of his head, a laceration to his nose and a broken neck. Blackmon showed pictures of the passenger’s side of the car and said the damage was “much less severe.” Blackmon did not have a chance to fully cross-examine Desideri. He will continue his questioning when the trial resumes Monday. In his opening statements, Blackmon said he planned to show how first-responder statements changed after the accident was over. Also in his opening statements, Blackmon said he plans to call forward accident reconstruction experts to testify about the circumstances and various injures. During her opening statements, Macumber discussed Moon’s prior driving-under-the-influence arrest in Orange County Dec. 31, 2005. From that arrest, she said, Moon’s license was removed and he was ordered to attend a driver safety course. He started the course in March 2006, Macumber said. Macumber said she plans to use testimony from instructors at the school and Moon’s work in the course to show Moon was aware that driving while under the influence of alcohol could be fatal. On Thursday, Macumber called Jessica Wenger, 19, to the stand. Wegner was with Moon, Shapton and Shapton’s roommate, Shane Evans, that night. While on the stand, Wenger said she was working as a busser at a wedding at the Auburn Valley Country Club that night. She said earlier in evening she had seen Moon get about four beers from the bar. Shapton, also an Auburn Valley Country Club employee, was in a maintenance area cleaning golf carts, she said. When Wenger left work at around 8:30 p.m., she said she met Moon, Shapton and Evans at the driving range of the golf course where Moon brought out a beer for himself and the two men. The four then decided to drive to Moon’s house, where they drank alcohol, Wenger said. Later, Moon and Shapton said they were going to drive to the country club. When asked if she thought Moon and Shapton appeared intoxicated, Wenger responded, yes. Following the accident, a blood test revealed that Moon had a blood-alcohol level of .19 and a presence of marijuana in his system. Wenger said an hour passed and neither man returned. She and Evans left Moon’s house and went to look for them at the country club. When they didn’t see them there, Evans drove Wenger home. That’s when the duo arrived at the crash scene. Wenger said she did not go near the scene but overheard a police officer nearby say the driver was dead. Later Evans told her that Shapton had died. At the end of her closing statements, Macumber told the jury that the evidence in the case was clear and she asked them to listen and watch. “I think you’ll find the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Billy Moon, the owner of the car, the one who lived, was driving the car,” Macumber said. As Blackmon finished describing the “chaotic” scene the night of the accident, he told the jury that he was “hopeful” they would come to one conclusion. “Unfortunately, Stewart Shapton was driving that night and died because he was in the driver’s seat,” Blackmon said. The Moon trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Placer County Court’s Dept. 44. The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at email@example.com or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.