In the trial of John Samuel Moore, 62, of Prestonsburg, the jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision of guilt or innocence regarding the charges of sex offender registry violations, and thus a mistrial was called.
“We are disappointed,” Commonwealth's Attorney Arnold Brent Turner said of the outcome. “He can't be tried again under this jury panel, but we plan to retry him later this year under the next panel.”
Moore has been lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center since his arrest by the Floyd County Sheriff's Department in October 2006 for allegedly violating SOR laws. He was charged with failure to maintain SOR by not providing accurate address information, a Class D felony, and “living to close to a preschool, or day care facility, when he, being a registered sex offender, was residing within 1,000 feet of the Baptist Learning Center of Prestonsburg First Baptist church,” a Class A misdemeanor.
On July 12, 2006, a law was passed forbidding sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of any school, daycare facility or public playground.
Turner said he believed the reason for the mistrial is because of an effort by the Kentucky State Police sex offender registry unit to lessen their workload by providing offenders with a protection clause which had no legal foundation.
The problem Turner spoke of deals with the application of the pre-July 2006 statute, which defined residence for sex offenders as “where the offender sleeps.”
However, during the trial KSP Sgt. Brian Sumner testified that to cut down on the amount of interaction with offenders who might be “visiting a friend or relatives for a weekend,” KSP issued “guidelines” which informed offenders they would only be in violation if they were “in the residence for 14 consecutive, or 30 aggregate days in a year.”
Because of these guidelines, sex offenders found in violation have a defense that they were misled about the law by a state agency. Turner said the issue has been coming up in cases all over the state.
According to Turner, Moore will remain in jail until he can be retried later this year.
According to court documents Moore is also currently under indictment for two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, as well as a second-degree persistent felony order, stemming from charges leveled against him while he had allegedly been living at the Front Street address. Both charges of sexual abuse involve minors, one of which was listed as being under the age of 12.
In 1991, Moore was charged with five counts of first-degree sexual assault in Cabell County, W.Va., with an 11-year-old girl whom he mentored as a gymnastics instructor. After pleading guilty in 1992, Moore served 12 years in a West Virginia state prison. Upon his release, he moved to Prestonsburg.
“After the retrial, win, lose or draw, we will move forward with the prosecution of these indictments of sexual abuse,” said Turner.
Turner explained that mistrials are not subject to 5th Amendment rights to be protected from double jeopardy, because a mistrial concludes a trial prematurely bereft of a guilty or not guilty judgment.