More than two years after a stabbing in a Clayton post office that left a 73-year-old man dead, a judge today ruled that the victim’s killer is not guilty by reason of insanity. Shannon Bradley Moore, 39, entered the not guilty by reason of insanity plea to murder charges this afternoon in Contra Costa County Superior Court, striking his earlier not guilty plea, which would have allowed him to serve prison time.
Now, the court is set to sentence Moore to a 16-year-to-life term in a mental facility for the slaying of Clayton resident Raymond Casso, Deputy District Attorney Molly Manoukian said. Judge Barbara Zuniga today pointed to evidence of Moore’s insanity at the time of the crime and during previous periods, including two hospitalizations related to schizophrenic episodes. According to doctors’ reports and interviews with those who knew Moore, the Clayton man was known to suffer from delusions, paranoia and hallucinations, Zuniga said. Police who had detained Moore after one incident described him as “out of control” and warned fellow officers to use caution when approaching him, she said.
The judge also read portions of interviews in which people described the defendant as “mentally sick” and known to walk around with his head down, mumbling to himself. Moore’s father said his son, who had been diagnosed as schizophrenic, began to deteriorate further after his involvement in a car crash. Defense attorney Barney Berkowitz today said forensic expert reports indicated that a psychotic episode in which Moore hallucinated that Casso was an attacker apparently prompted him to react in self-defense.
Manoukian refuted a doctor’s finding that Moore was unable to maintain contact with the outside world or to understand that the fatal stabbing was morally and legally wrong. “The defendant lived by himself, fed himself, paid his own bills” and frequented a local KMart to use the Internet, indicating an ability to function in the outside world without assistance, she said. When Moore decided to visit the post office to turn in some possibly valuable stamps for cash on March 7, 2009, he became angry when a clerk declined to buy the stamps, she said. Less than a minute later, Moore stabbed Casso several times in the face and neck before fleeing and hiding in a nearby restaurant.
Police said the murder was the first Clayton had seen in 13 years, shocking the sleepy town of about 11,000 residents. Casso, who had lived in Clayton for two decades, left behind his wife of 47 years, three children and four grandchildren. Zuniga is set to decide Jan. 6 whether to commit Moore to a state mental hospital or to an outpatient mental facility.
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