Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Judge hears about mental state of woman accused of killing lottery winner

TAMPA — Dorice "DeeDee" Moore cannot keep her story straight.

The woman accused of killing lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare in 2009 has given contradictory statements about how he died and what she knows.

But a Tampa psychiatrist, who offered his opinion in court Friday, does not think Moore is intentionally lying.

"The problem is that she discloses so much information in a confused, tangential and sometimes irrational way," Dr. Michael Maher testified.

Moore does not have the ability to focus on a question, the psychiatrist said, and her responses often do not make sense. She is out of touch with reality, he concluded, and not competent to stand trial.

Maher was brought by the defense to the competency hearing Friday, and his opinion differed from two court-appointed psychologists who testified that Moore is competent.

Moore agrees with them. She wants to proceed with the Nov. 26 trial, she told the three psychologists who evaluated her. She believes the facts will vindicate her, and she wants out of jail.

Moore is accused of killing Shakespeare, who won $12.7 million after taxes in the Florida lottery in 2006.

Shakespeare befriended Moore two years later when she told him she planned to write a book about him, but within four months of meeting him, Moore had control over his remaining assets — about $3.5 million and a mansion, authorities say.

Officials think Moore shot Shakespeare to death in April 2009. His body, buried under a concrete slab in Plant City, wasn't found until January.

Records show Moore had been trying to convince Shakespeare's family he was alive but missing by choice. She was charged with first-degree murder in February 2010.

To establish that a defendant is competent to stand trial, two court-appointed psychologists must agree the defendant meets several criteria. The defendant must understand the allegations, the potential sentence and how the justice system works.

The defendant must also be able to tell his or her attorney the "facts pertinent to the proceedings" and must be able to testify relevantly.

Those two pose problems for Moore, Maher said. But court-appointed psychologist Randy Otto disagreed.

"At times she was a little tangential. She could get sidetracked," Otto testified. "But I could always get her back."

Otto said he spent almost four hours with Moore and thought that while some of her explanations were confusing, she was always "there."

The second court-appointed psychologist, Debra Goldsmith, also said Moore was competent, but she did not do a full evaluation, so Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Battles said he could not rule on competency Friday.

He ordered an additional evaluation and will hear that psychologist's testimony Nov. 19.

That would be just in time.

Battles is scheduled to hear testimony on several motions pertaining to Moore's case later that day, including the defense's motion to keep some evidence out of the trial.

Defense attorneys believe three recorded interviews of Moore should not be played for a jury. Moore could testify at that hearing, and to do so she should be ruled competent to proceed.

"We are going to move cautiously," Battles said, "because it's the right thing to do."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

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