Free Unjolee Moore!
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Wrongfully convicted for his alleged part in a 2010 murder case, Unjolee Moore has spent the last eight years locked up while working to win a new trial, and ultimately his freedom. The families of Bernard Hughes and Timothy Westfield deserve justice. However the prosecution and conviction of Mr. Moore, resulting in a life sentence, was and is not justice.
Moore was prosecuted and convicted without any DNA or other scientific and forensic evidence; without adequate legal defense; with conflicting eyewitness testimony, none of which placed him at the scene of the crime; with cell phone records that put him on the other side of the city; and with multiple cases of police misconduct during the investigation.
On August 13th, CCJ mobilized well over a dozen community members to to rally and courtwatch as we work in solidarity with Mr. Moore for justice in his case. Folks have been raising awareness and energy around the case through education, organizing prayer calls, and holding public events in Chattanooga for years, but especially in the months leading up to where we are now.
Please check out this report-back from the hearing and stay tuned to Concerned Citizen for Justice as we develop next steps regardless of Judge Poole’s ruling.
#FreeUnjolee Press Conference
August 13, 2018
During the hearing Mr. Moore’s attorney focused on and broke down point-by-point how Unjolee’s previous trial attorney Garth Best, who at the time had never worked a murder case, was incompetent and ineffective council. Furthermore he showed how key mistakes, from correctly filing motions and reviewing evidence to presenting arguments and cross-examination, prevented Mr. Moore from receiving a fair trial.
- alibi and character witnesses who were subpoenaed and in the building were not called to testify;
- evidence like the phone records which show Mr. Moore on the other side of the city were not presented;
- and police misconduct in the case was not addressed (particularly the alleged confession of Moore, which was coerced after hours of being beat and framed up by CPD Detective Wagner- who was over the investigation, who has a history of brutality, and who perjured himself on the stand regarding Moore’s phone records; not to mention Officer McPherson’s role in interfering with the collection of evidence which likely implicated his niece in the incident).
Since that post-conviction hearing we’ve awaited Judge Poole’s past-due ruling on whether Mr. Moore will get the new trial he deserves, or if we have to continue the appeal process in a higher court.
View livestream from the hearing below
By Marie Mott
The #FreeUnjolee Series
Learn about the case and how it’s connected to systemic injustice in Chattanooga
Episode 1: The Case
Episode 2: CPD Brutality
Episode 3: Systemic Racism
The prosecution and conviction of Unjolee Moore is illustrative of the criminal injustice system that neither provides justice to those harmed, or to those accused of harm. The case points to the need for civilian Community Control and oversight of the Police, that includes investigative & disciplinary power. Though McPherson’s now retired, how can an officer with multiple past Internal Affairs complaints order potential evidence not be collected in a murder case involving his niece, and not only still be employed but rise to a top position directly beneath the police chief a a few years after?
The case demonstrates that quality of representation based on your ability to pay for adequate legal defense–which disproportionately impacts Black people–is directly connected to your outcomes in court. Moore’s conviction demonstrates the power of the Prosecutor’s Office to craft a narrative that ensures a conviction rather than justice for those harmed. To the system, respect and dignity for Black lives-whether those harmed or those accused of harm–are less important than getting a conviction.