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Jurors quickly find DeeDee Moore guilty of lottery winner's murder

Published Dec. 11, 2012

TAMPA — Moments after Dorice "DeeDee" Moore's conviction Monday night for fatally shooting the Florida Lottery's unluckiest winner, a judge called her "cold, calculating and cruel . . . probably the most manipulative person this court has seen."

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Emmett Battles then sentenced Moore, 40, to life in prison for first-degree murder. The state never sought the death penalty. For the first time in two weeks, the volatile defendant showed little reaction.

The verdict concluded the made-for-tabloids tale of Abraham Shakespeare, 43, an illiterate, occasional sanitation worker from Lakeland who won a $17 million jackpot in 2006, squandered almost all of it by 2008, and then met Moore, who offered to write his life story. Instead, she grabbed his home and the remnants of his fortune in 2009.

She told a detective the $1.3 million she took was "chump change."

When Shakespeare died on April 6, 2009, he had just $14,000 left. The prosecution said Shakespeare, who quit the eighth-grade to join his father in the fields, "couldn't tell $6,000 from $60,000." He could barely call on a cellphone.

Moore, said Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner, "led him around like a puppy dog with a treat."

The case attracted the kind of national attention Shakespeare could never dream of while he lived. In Session TV covered the entire trial and will broadcast it next year. Thousands watched a live stream version online.

Jurors had heard Moore name five different killers of Shakespeare on secret audio recordings and in statements to detectives —- two mysterious drug dealers she called "Ronald" and "Fearless," an undercover cop who posed as her "fall guy," a friend who reported Shakespeare missing, and her own 14-year-old son, "R.J".

Jurors took three hours Monday evening to decide that Moore herself pumped two bullets into Shakespeare's chest, then moved into his million-dollar mansion after burying him.

One juror, John Cameron, said Monday night that the state's recordings of Moore sold him on a guilty verdict, especially one in which she told an informer where the body was buried in her Plant City back yard, even drawing a diagram on how to dig it up.

"After that point, it was really easy," said Cameron, a 62-year-old retiree from Tampa. "Those tapes were really damaging to her."

He said there was no dissent in the jury room, though there was debate. They listened to the recordings one more time before releasing their verdict.

All along, her defense attorneys said the state had not shown a motive. She had already acquired his assets before he died.

"It wasn't the taking of the money that was the motive," Pruner said in closing arguments. "It was the keeping. She knew if Abraham was left alive there would be a fight. Greed flowed through her veins."

Moore declined to testify in her defense Monday and cried once during closing arguments, prompting one more warning from Judge Battles, who had chastised her for her theatrics for two weeks.

The state had its own dramatics Monday. Pruner hefted a cardboard box full of gallons of bleach that Moore had purchased, and slammed it on the prosecution table to show that Moore was strong enough to drag Shakespeare's body from her house.

Moore's attorney Byron Hileman described her as "a desperate, panicking, emotionally unstable woman" who was afraid that drug dealers would harm her and her son if she identified the real killers.

Her "core story," he said, was that Shakespeare was trying to recoup his fortune by investing in drugs and was killed for it.

Pruner said her story came with too many embellishments, including a fake letter in Shakespeare's name given to his mother, and her offer of $50,000 to an undercover officer to falsely confess to murder.

"She's the kind of person," Pruner said, "who thinks she's smarter than detectives."

Times staff writer Jodie Tillman contributed to this report. John Barry can be reached at jbarry@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3383.

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