A Biloxi family is finally at peace. Iva Jewel Moore's two murderers are now in jail for the rest of their lives. One of the murderers could have gotten the death penalty for his role in the February, 2005 slaying. But, the Moore family agreed to a last minute plea bargain -- in large part because of a new debate at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The question before the high court is whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. Mississippi is one of 36 states that carries out death sentences using this execution method. The Moores think Matthew McKamey belongs on death row. But they weren't willing to wait on the Supreme Court to make its lethal injection ruling. "We decided that life imprisonment would be a better option," Eddie Moore said.
He admitted his decision wasn't an easy one to make. Moore was the person who entered his mom's home in February, 2005, and found the elderly woman slumped over in her living room, with stab wounds all over her body.. "She was actually murdered right here. She was in her chair right there," he said, pointing to the spot in his mother's living room where she was attacked.
For more than two years, Moore wanted somebody to die for Iva Jewel Moore's gruesome murder. But on the eve of him potentially getting his wish, a legal snafu caused him to have a change of heart. Just days before capital murder suspect Matthew McKamey was to go on trial killing Moore's 92 year old mother, a Mississippi execution was put on hold. And legal questions about lethal injections surfaced here in Mississippi, and around the country. "It changed me from 100% to the death penalty to about 80% to going with the life without parole," he said.
Moore's wife felt the same way, because she wanted the horrifying ordeal to be over. "I was like, see, this is not going to work," thought Verna Moore. "We'll be going through a nightmare for the rest of our lives."
The family agreed with prosecutors that Thursday's plea bargain was its best alternative. So, McKamey pleaded guilty to the 2005 Debuys Road murder. He got a life sentence with no parole, and no chance to appeal.
Verna Moore was relieved that her days in the courtroom, listening to horrifying tales about how her mother-in-law died were over. "You have to have some kind of completion. And I felt like this was the way to do it. It's complete now," she said. "I wanted my husband to have rest. I wanted it to be over. And we know now it's over."
Matthew McKamey is the second person to plead guilty in Mrs. Moore's murder. Earlier this year, Ryan Teague got a life sentence with no parole for his part in the stabbing and strangulation case. According to prosecutors, the two Tennessee men were there to steal money, and pay for their hotel rooms.
Last year, a third defendant pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact charges.