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Larry Moses

Other Orleans Parish Exonerations
Just after 1 a.m. on January 4, 1994, 32-year-old Alma Causey and 42-year-old Daniel Ratliff were shot to death during an apparent robbery in the Desire neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Jean Barras, who called 911 to report the shooting, told police that she was inside her house at the corner of Feliciana and Humanity streets when she heard someone yell, “Lay down and give me your money.” She looked out the window and saw a Black man pointing a gun at Causey and Ratliff. (They had been guests at her house. Ratliff had left to get beer, and Causey had gone outside to wait for him.) Barras said she left the window, then heard gunshots and looked out again. The gunman was gone.

In her statement, Barras described the gunman as between 5’ 4” and 5’ 8”, and weighing 125-130 pounds. She said the man had his back to her and she couldn’t see his face or identify him. She also said that she didn’t see anybody else on the street at the time.

The case remained unsolved for several months.

On May 28, 1994, Frederick Stamps told police that while he was walking home late at night, a former girlfriend named Gail Jenkins lured him into an armed robbery with a man named Larry Moses. He said that Jenkins had pointed a gun at him, and Moses had pistol-whipped him and broke his arm. Stamps rode with the police, who eventually located Jenkins. She was arrested. Moses, who was 39 years old, could not be found. Moses lived across the street from Barras, and Stamps lived a few blocks away.

On June 6, about a week after his alleged altercation with Moses, Stamps told police that he had been a witness to the Causey-Ratliff murders and had seen Moses shoot the victims. He identified Moses from a photo lineup. In his statement, Stamps said he was coming back from the liquor store when he saw Moses talking to Causey and Ratliff. According to Stamps, “[t]he next thing [he] saw, Larry had a pistol drawn. He had it drawn already.” Moses saw Stamps and told him to leave if he did not “want none of this.” Stamps said he was half a block away when he heard the first shot. Stamps said he saw Ratliff beg for his life. He said that he ran away but also saw Moses walk back into his house.

During his interview with the homicide detectives investigating the double murder, Stamps discussed the May 28 incident. He did not mention a robbery. “Me and my old lady were talking,” he said, “and I had her arm to walk away. Larry was there. I told him this was between me and my old lady not him. Then bam, he hit me in my face. Me and him went to fighting.”

Police issued a warrant for Moses’s arrest on the murders. He was arrested in Marietta, Georgia, on June 25, 1994, and returned to New Orleans to face trial on two counts of first-degree murder. He was later charged with aggravated battery in the fight with Stamps.

After Moses was arrested, Barras gave an additional statement that she believed Moses was the man’s voice she heard before the shooting. In a memo dated August 5, 1994, Barras said she “is 75 % sure it was Moses.” The memo didn’t say how the identification was made or when Barras made it. In an interview a week earlier, Barras did not say she heard Moses’s voice, although she reiterated that she did not see the shooter’s face. Barras knew Moses, who was taller and heavier than the man Barras initially described to police.

Moses’s trial in Orleans Parish District Court began on October 30, 1995. Prosecutors sought the death penalty, although they did not have the murder weapon or a motive for the crime. In addition, Moses had an alibi. At the time of the shooting, according to friends and relatives, he was visiting family in Bogalusa, Louisiana, about 75 miles north of New Orleans.

Barras testified about what she saw and heard of the shooting. Now, she said that she had seen the shooting, and both victims were on the ground, face down, when they were shot. Asked about the shooter’s voice, Barras first said she “wasn’t clear.” Later, when asked about her certainty on a scale of 0 to 100, Barras said she was 70 or 75 percent certain that she heard Moses.

In addition, Barras testified that after the shooting, as she and other neighbors went outside to see what happened, she saw Stamps on the corner.

Stamps testified that he ran into Moses and the victims on the way back from the store. He walked between them and asked what was going on. He said Moses told him to mind his own business. He testified that he did not hear an argument, nor did he see a gun, but he heard two shots when he was about 15-20 feet away. He ran and then saw Ratliff fall to the ground from a kneeling position.

The prosecutor asked Stamps about the May 28 incident with Moses, which was serious enough to require surgery on his arm. “Was this fight over some woman?” Stamps said it wasn’t and testified that a woman called him over to a car and then Moses beat him. Stamps testified that he and the police went looking for Moses but couldn’t find him, and the police ended up arresting “another young lady” that night.

During cross-examination, Moses’s attorney with the Orleans Indigent Defender Program asked Stamps if Jenkins was present during the fight. He said she wasn’t, and he described his relationship with her as casual. “We was like a trick date,” he said. “All right. It wind [sic] up a robbery thing with Mr. Moses and the lady.”

Moses did not testify, but two witnesses presented his alibi. Oralee Stevenson, his aunt, testified that Moses had arrived in Bogalusa before Christmas and stayed with her until January 8. She said that during his visit, Moses spent the day eating and watching television, rarely leaving the house.

Mack Moses testified that he was out of town most of the Christmas holiday. He said he returned to Louisiana on January 2 and picked up his son on January 8. He testified that he believed his son was in Bogalusa the entire time.

On October 31, 1995, the jury convicted Moses of two counts of first-degree murder and then deadlocked 11-1 on whether to recommend he receive the death penalty. On November 20, 1995, Moses was sentenced to life without parole.

Moses began a series of appeals through the Louisiana state courts. His direct appeal, filed in 1996, asserted that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, and that the trial judge erred when instructing the jury on Moses’s “flight” at the time of his arrest. “It was clear error for the court to instruct the jury that leaving the state four months after an incident could be used to infer guilty knowledge or consciousness of guilt,” the appeal said. The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction in 1997.

Moses then appealed for post-conviction relief, asserting in 2000 that his trial attorney was ineffective for failing to vigorously cross-examine Barras and Stamps and for not discovering evidence of Stamps’s deteriorating mental health at the time he told police that he saw Moses shoot Causey and Ratliff. A New Orleans coroner had signed an order for protective custody against Stamps on June 3, 1994, after his mother said he was suffering from mental illness and had made threats against family members. The appellate court rejected the motion in 2002.

At this time, Moses also contacted Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), which had opened in 2001. He was placed on a waiting list, due to the high demand for the organization’s legal assistance.

In 2013, Moses filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He claimed that his attorney on his second round of appeals had failed to file motions in a timely fashion. Separately, Moses asserted that the state failed to disclose the protective order against Stamps, which would have undermined his credibility. Although the coroner is not a law-enforcement agency, the motion said the office is “to a significant degree part of the prosecutorial team.”

A federal magistrate judge denied the habeas petition on May 21, 2014, on procedural grounds.

In 2022, IPNO and the Civil Rights Division of the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office began a joint investigation of Moses’s case. They interviewed new witnesses and found documents that had not been disclosed to Moses’s trial attorney. This new evidence formed the basis of an application for post-conviction relief filed on March 3, 2023.

The motion said that prosecutors had failed to disclose substantial impeachment evidence against Stamps. This included his medical records, which indicated he was taking antipsychotic medication and was likely schizophrenic. In addition, the medical records contained the commitment order. (Prosecutors had previously denied having this order.)

Separately, notes in the prosecutor’s files contained an interview with Gail Jenkins, who said that she and Stamps had once been in love, but that Stamps wouldn’t accept that the relationship was over. She said Stamps once attacked her when she wouldn’t leave with him. The undisclosed files also included Stamps’s statements to the police about the incident with Jenkins and Moses that contradicted his trial testimony.

The motion said the evidence would have raised questions about whether Stamps was a reliable witness to the shooting or was looking to get back at Moses for interfering in his relationship with Jenkins.

The motion also said that Stamps testified falsely at the trial, when he claimed to have only a passing acquaintance with Jenkins, and that the prosecution failed to correct this false testimony based on what was in its files.

As part of the re-investigation, IPNO interviewed David Ducros, who was a friend of Moses and knew Stamps. In an affidavit, Ducros bolstered Moses’s alibi. Ducros said he had driven Moses to Bogalusa in late December 1993. After Ducros learned of Ratliff’s death, he called Moses to tell him the news, because Moses and Ratliff were also friends. Ducros said this was before cellphones were in wide use, and he reached Moses on the landline at his aunt’s house.

Ducros also said in the affidavit that he ran into Stamps after Moses was arrested, when Stamps still had a cast on his arm. Ducros said he asked Stamps why he was going to court against Moses. Ducros said that Stamps responded: “I got something for him. He broke my arm so I’m going to say he killed those people.” Ducros said he told Stamps that Moses was in Bogalusa at the time of the shooting. Stamps said, “They don’t know that.”

Prosecutors had dismissed the battery charge against Moses on February 23, 1996, several months after his convictions for murder. In the case file, a prosecutor noted “problems could arise if V’s testimony was inconsistent with previous testimony.”

The motion also reasserted Moses’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and factual innocence.

On May 12, 2023, attorneys for IPNO and the district attorney’s office submitted a joint stipulation on the motion for a new trial prior to an evidentiary hearing that same day. The stipulation said both sides agreed that the state had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence. It also said that if a retrial were to occur, Stamps and Barras would testify consistently with their testimony in 1995.

On May 25, 2023, Judge Kimya Holmes of Orleans Parish District Court granted Moses a new trial, based on the state’s failure to disclose the impeachment evidence against Stamps. “This failure to disclose kneecapped the defendant’s ability to develop this favorable evidence, and put the State of Louisiana at an impermissibly unfair advantage over the defendant,” Judge Holmes wrote. Her ruling sharply criticized the state over its efforts to use a legal sleight-of-hand to avoid taking responsibility for not disclosing the commitment order.

Judge Holmes rejected Moses’s claim that prosecutors committed misconduct by failing to correct Stamps’s false testimony, writing that his unreliability as a witness made it difficult to ascertain whether the state knew he was not testifying truthfully. She also rejected Moses’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and of factual innocence, noting that while his conviction was defective, there was no new scientific, forensic, or non-testimonial evidence supporting his claim.

After the ruling, Moses was released from prison on bond on June 14, 2023. Prosecutors dismissed the charges on July 19, 2023.

Moses told a local television station that he thought he was going to die in prison. But he kept fighting.

“Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you say ‘Oh well, ain’t much I could do about it, but get stronger, because if I give up and feel sorry for myself I’m gonna disappear,’” Moses said. “Don’t stop fighting you know? And that’s what I did.”

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 8/14/2023
Last Updated: 8/14/2023
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1994
Sentence:Life without parole
Age at the date of reported crime:39
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No