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Salaam Moore

Other Oklahoma Cases
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On January 8, 1998, 43-year-old Phillip Gonzales was killed with a shotgun on the porch of a known drug house in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Doris Wright, 34, was shot twice by the same gunman, but survived after one of her legs was partially amputated.

Wright insisted to police that she did not know or recognize the gunman. However, in 1999, she said that prior to the shooting, she had stolen some drugs belonging to 16-year-old Salaam Moore. Police arrested Moore and charged Moore with the first-degree murder of Gonzales and shooting with intent to kill Wright.

Moore went to trial in Oklahoma County District Court in March 2001. Police testified that the apartment building where Gonzales lived and was murdered was a known drug house and that Moore was a reputed drug dealer who was believed to sell drugs to residents of the building. Medical evidence indicated Gonzales was kneeling when shot and that the shotgun was in his mouth when fired.

Wright testified that she was a prostitute and crack cocaine addict and that not long before the shooting, she stole a bag of crack cocaine that she thought was Moore’s.

On the night of the shooting, Wright said she was in Gonzales’s apartment when someone pounded on the door and a male voice said, “Open the door. You’ve got my dope.” Gonzales opened the door and was killed, she said.

The gunman, who was masked, then came into the apartment and shot her twice—in the arm and the leg—before he left, Wright told the jury. She said she was unable to identify the gunman. However, she also testified that in the days and weeks after the shooting, Moore made comments to her that led her to suspect that he blamed her for the theft of the crack cocaine.

As Wright was testifying, a woman entered the courtroom and sat down next to Moore’s father in the spectator section. Wright became upset and a recess was declared. During the recess, Wright said she recognized the woman—later identified as Shavonda Shelton—as Moore’s girlfriend. Shelton was questioned as well and admitted that she was the mother of Moore’s child and that his name was tattooed on her leg. A photograph of the tattoo was taken and later presented as evidence to the jury.

When the trial resumed, Wright testified that prior to the shooting, she had walked to Gonzales’s apartment to ask him if she could stay the night and that Shelton had followed her up to the door before walking away and getting into a van with Moore.

On March 8, 2001, the jury convicted Moore of first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Moore’s appeals to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and Oklahoma Supreme Court were denied. Moore filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus, but that was denied in 2004.

In 2015, Moore filed a post-conviction petition for a new trial based on a sworn statement from Wright admitting that her testimony about Moore’s comments after the shooting was false as was her testimony that Moore’s girlfriend had followed her to Gonzales’s apartment. Wright admitted that she knew who the real gunman was and that it was not Moore.

“Mr. Moore did not commit these crimes, and he is innocent and wrongfully incarcerated at this time,” Wright said in the statement. “I testified that Mr. Moore committed the crimes … because I was afraid for my life if I told the truth.”

On July 18, 2016, following a hearing during which Wright recanted her trial testimony, Oklahoma County District Judge Timothy Henderson vacated Moore’s convictions and ordered a new trial. The prosecution then dismissed the charges and Moore was released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 7/26/2016
State:Oklahoma
County:Oklahoma
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Attempted Murder
Reported Crime Date:1998
Convicted:2001
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:Life without parole
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:16
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No