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Paul Moore

Cousin of Colusa murderer felt betrayed by attempt to pin killing on him

Published: Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 - 11:57 am

The first time he took the stand last week, Peter Moore said he eyeballed his murder defendant cousin. It was the first time he'd seen him since Paul Moore's arrest nearly two years ago.

During a break in testimony, Peter said he mouthed a single word to Paul.


Then he mouthed it again.


The answer was simple enough. Paul Moore needed to blame somebody else if he was going to get off the hook, but the Sacramento Superior Court jury rejected the effort and convicted him Friday of first-degree murder.

When Paul Moore goes away to prison for what will probably be the rest of his life, Peter Moore will have the memory of the chilling visual his cousin shot back at him in the Sacramento courtroom.

"Once I got situated, I looked right at him," Peter Moore said in an interview. "We made eye contact. We got into a nasty staredown. When the jury went out, I mouthed the word 'why' twice, and he just looked at me with an evil stare. I just put my head down. From that point on, I was directed by the (prosecution) team to not look at him anymore. They just didn't want the jury to see it."

The Saturday interview capped a week in which Peter Moore was excoriated and his reputation as deeply muddied as the flooded Colusa rice fields where his cousin planted the bomb that killed Moore Brothers foreman Roberto Ayala, 43, as he turned on an irrigation pump.

It took the jury less than a day to express its disagreement with the effort by Paul Moore and his defense attorney, Linda Parisi, to put the killing on Peter Moore. It will take Peter Moore, a Colusa resident, a bit longer to restore his image in a small town that heard him characterized as an angry, threatening hothead.

Witnesses said he ran over and killed a dog. They said they heard him threaten to kill his father. He admitted he hated his uncle and that he once threatened to rip off somebody's head.

"It was very misconstrued who Pete Moore really is," Peter Moore said.

"They painted me out to be a horrible monster. You know, everybody says things they regret. Everybody does things they regret. But when you look at what (Parisi) actually came up with and gave people to see, she had nothing. It was all nothing more than a big old puppet show that they put on, to try and ruin my life.

"My wife and I have taken people into our home, like the kid who lived with us for over a year to finish his senior year in high school. We've done normal stuff. We're not the animals that we were painted in the courtroom. Am I proud of everything I have done? No. But who is?"

Peter Moore, 50, is a landscaper with two children who worked on the 1,800-acre Moore Brothers ranch when he was a boy, but he later became estranged from his father. He now runs a business in Colusa, but the bad publicity from the trial has prompted him to consider a move.

"We're happy with where we live, but I'd like to move over to Yuba City, closer to my mother and sister," Moore said. "I'd like to get more distance from a town that's been hard to live in. Our lives have been thrown out on a platter. We've been really hurt. I coached (youth) football for 10 years, and I want to get involved with kids again, but that's not going to happen in this little community."

He wasn't in the courtroom Friday when the jury came back with the guilty verdict, but Peter Moore said he broke into tears when he heard the news. He said he was happy for the Ayala family "that they got justice. I was happy that the truth came out."

"I would like the Ayalas to know we weren't allowed to go to the funeral," Moore said. "We wanted to express our condolences, but we weren't allowed to. I'd like to express them now. I can't imagine the pain that family's been through. I'm so happy that family got justice."

Roberto Ayala's son, Fabian, who was 7 years old at the time, was with his dad when the booby-trap bomb went off in an electrical panel that the foreman had opened to irrigate the fields on the Moore Brothers ranch just outside Grimes.

"I'm grateful he is still alive," Moore said of the boy.

As for his cousin, Peter Moore said that he and Paul were close friends as boys who worked on the ranch founded by their grandfather and then passed on to their fathers. Peter said they remained friendly until they went to high school, when his cousin started hanging around with a crowd that used methamphetamine.

"He took that road," Peter Moore said. "I didn't like the people he hung around with, and he didn't like the people I hung around with."

Court records showed that Paul Moore had criminal convictions for electronically eavesdropping on his ex-wife, for assault with intent to commit rape and for possession of methamphetamine. The sexual-assault conviction was later set aside, the records showed.

Peter Moore said he hadn't had much contact with Paul Moore before his cousin returned a couple years before the killing to work at the ranch for the defendant's father, Roger Moore, under the supervision of Roberto Ayala.

"He started coming to see me in my shop in Colusa, and I was always really glad to see him," Peter Moore said.

But he got a bad feeling about his cousin, Peter Moore said. It intensified when he found out that Paul's son had been accepted into Boston University to study engineering. When he congratulated Paul about it, he said his cousin complained that his ex-wife "moved (his son) as far away as she could," Peter Moore said.

"A normal person would have been wearing a Boston University sweatshirt and a Boston University hat," Moore said. "It just showed the state of mind he was in."

Peter said he felt "betrayed" when Paul tried to blame him for the murder the cousin committed.

"We were so close growing up," he said. "It's beyond anything I could have imagined. I could never have seen this coming."

"My wife and I have taken people into our home. ... We've done normal stuff. We're not the animals that we were painted in the courtroom. Am I proud of everything I have done? No. But who is?"

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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