Too Dumb to Die

Kevin Moore's case raises questions about executing the mentally disabled

Indeed, Kevin was an easy target for cruel kids. He was cross-eyed, his clothing was mismatched, and he carried a girl's bag -- a pink My Little Pony backpack. "He just looked like a cartoon," Tremaine said. "It was a funny look. You know, he's not all there."

Kevin is a poor historian. He's been unable to give his attorneys a personal time line or even something as simple as the year or the school grade he was in when events occurred. His family is equally challenged to recall things about him. "They don't even have pictures of him as a child," says Dorothy Ferraro, one of the public defenders appointed to Kevin's case. One thing known is that, when Kevin ran away as a teenager, his grandmother and Uncle James never looked for him. In fact, they apparently never even reported the mentally disabled boy missing.

That's something that has stuck in Priscilla Robinson's mind for the past decade. When Kevin was 15 years old, she remembered in a deposition, neither she nor Tremaine had seen him for quite some time when, one afternoon, she walked over to the boy's house. Hazel and Uncle James were in the front yard.

Above: Kevin Moore has an IQ of 54. On July 25, 2002, Kevin Moore murdered Yvonne Moss in this Deerfield Beach house.
Colby Katz
Above: Kevin Moore has an IQ of 54. On July 25, 2002, Kevin Moore murdered Yvonne Moss in this Deerfield Beach house.

They said Kevin was gone. He had run away.

"Nobody bothered to look for him?" Priscilla recalled asking.

Hazel and James dismissed the question. "They were like that, just like [indicating], just waved their hands," Priscilla explained. "And it just hurt me that a parent and grandmother and all could even feel this way about their own blood."

Months later, Kevin returned, and unnamed family members told Tremaine that the teenager had been exploited. "Some guy had him on drugs, and he was using him as like a boy toy," Tremaine explained. "And I know the family never really took him in. So it was like Kevin ain't -- he ain't all together as a person, you know. So it was like the family, like I said, they don't never help him out or anything. So pretty much everything that he got, he had to go out and get on his own."

Kevin told a court-appointed psychologist that he had been sexually assaulted "by some guy I was living with." He had also contracted HIV. In 1997, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He received 18 months of community supervision. Kevin admits to being sexually promiscuous despite his HIV-positive status and says he first tried crack cocaine at 18 and began to experiment with ecstasy in his early 20s -- two of the few life events he seems able to pinpoint.

By the time Kevin was 23 years old, drug use was a daily activity. "This young man has -- he has a bad... a very sad, sad life," Priscilla Robinson said. "I believe if his mother probably would have survived, it might have been a little better for him because he didn't have anyone to give him love, to show him, you know, what it means to love and to care... He was like a thrown-away child or something, tossed out there to the wind or whatever comes about just comes about."

For several years before his arrest, Kevin lived on Fort Lauderdale Beach, sleeping on the sand with a girlfriend and sometimes staying at his Uncle James' duplex at 1433 SE Second Ter. in Deerfield Beach. He worked odd jobs, moving from house to house looking for maintenance work. "He cut a few yards out there...," James Moore recalled. "He probably get $5 then and get $5 when he get done. And like that's how he be doing all his life since I know him."

When Kevin knocked on Uncle James' door the night before the murder, he was high on crack, James recalled in a deposition. James suggested that his nephew sleep in the chair outside. The next morning, according to Kevin's statement to police, he woke up and smoked a rock of crack cocaine. He then strolled down SE Second Avenue toward Yvonne Moss' home.

Jennifer Oscarson, a 22-year-old woman who lives in Yvonne Moss' Deerfield Beach neighborhood, was on Fort Lauderdale Beach with friends on August 3, 2002, nine days after the murder.

As she and her friends walked down A1A near the Elbo Room, they saw a funny sight: a young black male walking up and down the sidewalk, singing songs and begging for money. "We were actually laughing because he was being a fool," she would later tell police.

The young man asked Oscarson for a cigarette. She pulled out a Black and Mild cigar. "As I handed it to him is when I caught eye contact with him," she explained. "And immediately I noticed the cross eyes."

"What's your name?" she asked him.

"Kevin," he replied.

Oscarson suddenly knew he was the man suspected of murdering her elderly neighbor. She had been one of several neighbors who told police about the suspicious lawn man. Oscarson knew this was the guy: "What more evidence did you need than that, a cross-eyed black guy named Kevin?" she told officers.

The young woman knew she needed a way for police to find him. She asked what kind of work he did. "He said that he did pool maintenance," Oscarson remembered. She asked him for a phone number, telling him that her mother might need some work done. Kevin left and returned with a tattered business card for his uncle's pool-cleaning business. At that moment, a Fort Lauderdale police cruiser pulled up. Kevin immediately took off.

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