DeeDee Moore, the Tampa woman accused of swindling and then killing lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare, was found guilty today of first degree murder and other charges, after she declined to take the stand and the defense rested without calling a single witness.
In addition to the murder charge, Moore was also found guilty of possessing and discharging a firearm resulting in death. Prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty in the case, and Moore was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“After trial and listening to all of this over two weeks, words that were said cool, calculated, manipulated. Abraham Shakespeare was your prey and victim. Money was the route of evil you brought to Abraham. You are sentenced to life in prison you shall not be elegible for parole,” Judge Emmet Battles said.
Jurors deliberated for more than three hours Monday before delivering their verdict.
Prosecutors argued that Moore, 40, befriended Shakespeare before he vanished in April 2009 after he’d won $ 30 million in the Florida lottery. After Shakespeare had given away most of his money to people who simply asked for it, Moore agreed to manage the little he had left, but instead, prosecutors said, stole his winnings and killed him.
During a dramatic trial Moore has broken down in tears several times, and at one point said that she went into anaphylactic shock while in custody after taking the drug Bactrim when she was having problems with cuts on her ankles from being cuffed every day.
Early today the defense announced it would rest its case without calling any witnesses. Moore did not testify during her trial.
“There is no witness that can say she ever admitted to doing the killing or participating as a principle in helping anyone else do the killing,” Moore’s defense attorney Byron Hileman said today.
In the courtroom this morning, Moore’s friend, former inmate Rose Condora was accused of threatening witnesses by Tampa Judge Emmett Battles, and was thrown out of the courtroom.
Authorities say Shakespeare, 47, was shot twice in the chest by a .38-caliber pistol sometime in April 2009. He wasn’t reported missing until November 2009. His body was found under a slab of cement in a backyard in January 2010.
Polk County authorities claim Moore offered someone a $ 200,000 house in exchange for reporting a false sighting of Shakespeare. She also allegedly sent the victim’s son $ 5,000 in cash for his birthday, and used the victim’s cellphone to send text messages purportedly from him.
Shakespeare’s mother, Elizabeth Walker, also testified that Moore tried to hide that her son was missing, and said that he had AIDS.
Sentorria Butler, Shakespeare’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, also testified. Butler told the court last week that Moore is a divisive and manipulative woman who told her Shakespeare “ran off with the lady from the bank.”
During the trial, jurors also watched a Walmart surveillance video that the prosecution said links Moore to Shakespeare’s killing. The footage shows Moore making a $ 104 cash purchase of gloves, duct tape, plastic sheeting and other items detectives later found close to where Shakespeare’s body was buried.
Jurors hearing the case also heard a rambling two-page letter that witness Greg Smith, a police informant who was a former friend of Shakespeare and supposed friend of Moore, says Moore allegedly forged while at a Comfort Inn & Suites in Lakeland, Fla.
The letter was meant to appear to be from Shakespeare, prosecutors said. They say the letter was a ruse to convince Shakespeare’s mother that he was still alive. Moore attempted to cover her tracks while it was written, according to prosecutors.
During the trial, jurors had to be accompanied by a security escort into the courtroom after they told the judge Smith and Shakespeare’s family and friends were making them feel uncomfortable outside the courthouse. None of the jurors had to be excused by the judge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.