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Candid camera: Defendant in Albemarle murder trial caught on video boasting about kill

Jurors at the murder trial of Kevin Moore got their first glimpse Monday of the videos that surreptitiously captured the 39-year-old Albemarle County man talking about a killing that bears a remarkable resemblance to the one he’s accused of committing: the 2004 slaying of Fluvanna County resident Jesse Hicks.

The videos were shot inside a specially outfitted Chevy van as investigators pumped information from Moore.

“We had come up with a ruse that I was looking for someone to come into my organization, my criminal organization, and I needed to have someone killed,” testified Michael Roane Monday.

A first sergeant with the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, Roane climbed into the case and the Chevy van in 2018, posing as a long-haired drug lord intent on bumping off a rival. Inside the van, Roane seemed to be interviewing Moore for the task.

“I’m into it,” Moore can be heard saying on a tape played in court.

“You down with pulling the trigger?” Roane asks.

“Yeah, 100%” responds Moore. “If you ask me to do something, I don’t stop until it’s done.”

The prosecution’s theory is that Moore and his late father conspired to kill Hicks rather than pay back tens of thousands of dollars that Moore’s father had allegedly borrowed from the man.

The 47-year-old Hicks disappeared on Sept. 1, 2004, after telling he wife that he would be meeting that day with Moore’s father, Richard Glenn Spradlin, about the debt. Until his death from cancer at the age of 60 last year, Spradlin was a co-defendant in the current criminal case.

It took 14 years for authorities to bring first-degree murder charges against Moore and Spradlin. The delay came in part from the decade it took to find the body, which a hunter testified last week to stumbling upon while tracking wild turkey at a southern Albemarle hunt club in 2014.

The grainy video and unclear audio tapes which prosecutors played in Albemarle Circuit Court Monday appear to depict means, motive and opportunity — as well as information offered up by Moore himself.

“There’s people looking for a guy that’s been missing 12 years,” Moore volunteers after boasting about his ability to keep a secret.

“They seem to think it was a drug man that got him,” Moore continues. “They never found his body.”

In fact, by the time of the tapes, the body had been found. Another fact that came out in court Monday was that Hicks sold cocaine and used Moore’s father for drop-offs, according to recently retired Albemarle County police detective Philip Giles.

As Moore watched stoically from the defense table, Giles testified that he kept tabs on the surreptitiously taped conversations via a special cell phone that allowed him to listen in real time, such as when Roane asked Moore about body disposal.

“Put them in the dirt and they’ll break up faster,” Moore says.

“Did you put him in the dirt?” asks Roane.

“Yeah, yeah, sunk him in a mud hole,” Moore answers.

The two also discussed gun choice and shooting style. Moore said that a shotgun’s ballistics can’t be traced, and he could be seen reaching around to point to his own left rear shoulder in what Roane interpreted as a sucker shot.

“So he never even knew what was coming?” Roane asks. “Shot that motherf—ker in the back?”

The defense suggested during cross-examination, since Roane quickly shifted topic to scheduling the hit the following week, that it wasn’t clear whether Moore’s ensuing “uh huh” replied to a past killing or the proposed hit job.

When Moore said he couldn’t go through with the proposed hit due to his wife and children, Roane departed, but the taping continued under another investigator, a private citizen and a police informant named Eddie “Harley” Fitzgerald.

Now deceased, Fitzgerald promised Moore a deal that would give him 25% of the profits from a promised $4.5 million investment in an RV park. Like the proposed hit on a drug rival, the RV park was fictional, designed only to capture Moore’s attention and verbal admissions.

With the bogus hit out of the way and only a supposedly legitimate business deal on the table, the prosecutor suggested Moore lowered his guard to Fitzgerald.

“You used a pistol?” Fitzgerald asks.

“Shotgun,” Moore says.

“Big one?” Fitzgerald asks.

“Short barrel,” Moore says.

“Slug or dove?” Fitzgerald asks.

“Dove,” Moore says.

In one video, the discussion about moving a body through a forest causes Moore to hold out his hands in what Fitzgerald characterized as nervousness.

“Just thinking about it,” Moore says.

As for the dead man’s pickup truck, Moore was recorded saying that he wore gloves to avoid leaving physical evidence when he drove the truck to a commuter parking lot near the Nelson County community of Schuyler.

“I ended up driving it over there and having my old man pick me up,” Moore says.

While he let Fitzgerald handle all the Chevy van chatter after their suspect opted out of the fictional hit, Roane testified about how he reentered the case in the fall of 2018. Earlier, he had been Mike the hitman, but he gave a preview of one more tape that seems destined to be played later in Moore’s trial.

“I walked into the interview room when he was arrested,” said Roane, “and said, ‘I’m not the Mike you think I am.”


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