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  1. #1
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    TX - Scott Moranda, 53, bludgeoned to death, Corsicana, 29 Dec 2005

    I'm not sure which topic this should go under. I need some information and input on this situation. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

    On December 29th my nephew was murdered in Texas. According to the one and only newspaper article, he died of blunt force trauma. His 19-year-old stepson was arrested at the scene and held on $250,000 bond.

    My sister, my nephew's mother, lives in my hometown in upstate New York. Her youngest son and his wife also live in the same town. The police in Texas called the police in my hometown in New York, and a local police officer went to my youngest nephew's place of work and broke the news of his brother's murder to him.

    To make this story easier to understand, I need to give a little background. My nephew that was murdered was born and raised in upstate New York. He married and had three children, and later he and his wife divorced. It was a bitter divorce and when his company offered him a promotion to work on a start-up team for a new company in Texas, he took the job. A few years later he met and married a woman in Texas, who had been previously married and had a ten-year-old son. A few years after they married they had a daughter, who is now almost 7 years old.

    In the 9 years since my nephew married his second wife, my sister has briefly met her twice, and has met her granddaughter once, although she regularly talks on the phone with her granddaughter and they exchange letters. No one in the family really knows anything about the second wife. Also in the past 9 years, in conversations with his mother, my nephew complained about his stepson. As the boy got older, he got into drugs and sometime in the past two years was arrested for theft.

    In the days following the murder my sister and her youngest son and daughter (who lives in North Carolina), spoke with the police in Texas on a regular basis. To date, they've never told the family what happened. All we know is that my nephew went outside his home, which is in a rural area, and was hit with a baseball bat. His wife called 911 and my nephew was dead when the police arrived. A Justice of the Peace ordered an autopsy, there was an inquest at the scene, and the stepson was arraigned and held on $250,000 bond. Since then the police have said that the stepson admitted guilt and he was being charged with murder one.

    My sister and niece have called the wife and asked her what happened, and her response is, "I don't know." All she has said is that my nephew went outside, and that's all she knows.

    After being in jail for three weeks, someone bailed the stepson out of jail. We don't know who posted bail, but know that my nephew's wife couldn't possibly make bail. She works as a clerk in a store, and they had no savings or a large amount of equity in a home. The wife does have several brothers and sisters and we suspect they may have been able to post bail. The detective called my niece and told her that they were surprised when bail was met, as they had set it high enough that they didn't expect it to be made.

    My sister was shocked to learn that upon his release from jail, the stepson moved back in with his mother and stepsister - my sister's granddaughter. The stepson is babysitting with her while his mother works. My sister and niece called the wife and were shocked when the stepson answered the phone. My sister asked the wife if having the stepson living there was a wise idea, and the wife's response was, "My son isn't violent." My sister's son has been murdered, and his alleged killer is now living in his home and babysitting with his daughter, my sister's granddaughter.

    In subsequent conversations with my niece, less than a month after the murder, the wife said, "what's happened is over, I'm moving on with my life. She also doesn't seem to think what happened is wrong. She's not acting like a grieving widow.

    The detective called my niece last week and told her that the case is going before the grand jury in February or March and he's 99% certain of an indictment. He said, "with all the evidence we have.....they will indict." But, we still don't know what happened.

    My niece called the newspaper that carried the one and only article on the murder and spoke to the reporter that wrote the article. She asked if he was at the crime scene and if there was anything more than what was reported in the newspaper. He said he wasn't at the scene and that he wrote the article from the intitial police report and an interview with a detective. He said, "they're playing this one close to their chest" in reference to the police.

    My questions: Can anyone think of a reason why the police would be so mum about this case - why they won't tell the family what happened. They seem confident of getting an indictment, but still are mum on what happened and what sort of evidence they have. We know nothing about Texas law and the procedure for a criminal case. Do all criminal cases in Texas go to the grand jury? If the grand jury indicts, what happens next? What exactly is "murder one?" If convicted, what sort of prison time is likely?

    No one in the family wants to do anything that will put the case in jeopardy, but just what to know what happened.
    My posts are my opinion..........



  2. #2
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    I am sorry for your loss.

    I think someone should notify child protection services and tell them what is going on -If LE are sure of an inictment then this person is dangerous to his little sister.
    It is bad enough your family lost their loved one but for LE to not tell them all they can must be hard.

  3. #3
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    It sounds to me like it's time to book a flight to Texas. While there get a lawyer to file papers requesting all information about the case....Freedom of Information Act.
    This is my opinion. It's mine and you can't take it away.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leila
    ...Can anyone think of a reason why the police would be so mum about this case - why they won't tell the family what happened...
    They did tell you what happened. Your nephew was killed by a blow from a baseball bat. Only the stepson knows why he did it. Perhaps, his mother knows why he did it, too. However, she isn't talking. Her main concern is to protect her child.

    Maybe, the mother got some life insurance that she put towards the stepson's bail. I tend to think that someone put up his/her home as collateral, though.

    Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson's mother, said that she was not told many details of Scott's case. She said that she learned it at the trial, just like everyone else. If the police tip their hand, the defense can use it in their strategy.

  5. #5
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    Nan is right Leila. They don't tell you much. They listen to your complaints or questions and keep the rest to themselves. I would be worried about the granddaughter as well but there isn't much you can do. They are not as much preventative as reactive. It seems your nephew was the target. LE resources will discover if any life insurance policies were in place. That is an easy one for them and one prosecutors love.

  6. #6
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    Is it possible that the wife and stepson may be in it together? I know that's a horrible prospect, but she seems to be acting rather nonchalant about it... Please keep us posted. If we can help you in any way, let us know... Sorry for your loss.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leila
    We know nothing about Texas law and the procedure for a criminal case. Do all criminal cases in Texas go to the grand jury? If the grand jury indicts, what happens next? What exactly is "murder one?" If convicted, what sort of prison time is likely?
    Leila, I am sorry that you have lost your nephew.

    Trying to obtain information and understand what is going on must be very frustrating for you and your family. The following site might help answer some of your questions. When you get there, click on "How is a criminal prosecution initiated". Hope this helps.

    State Bar of Texas -- Texas Criminal Justice Process

    A Citizen's Guide prepared by the State Bar of Texas Criminal Justice Section


    http://www.texasbar.com/Content/Cont...ce_Process.htm

  8. #8
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    The following is also from http://www.texasbar.com/Content/Cont...ce_Process.htm--way down towards the end of the page.

    BAIL

    The primary purpose of bail is to secure the defendant's presence for trial. In setting the amount of bail, the judge considers the nature of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed, the future safety of the victim or his/her family and the community, and the defendant's ability to make bail. Bail includes a personal bond, a cash bond, or a surety bond. A person not released on bail remains in jail.

    The Texas Constitution provides that prisoners have the right to bail before conviction in all cases except (1) capital offenses "when the proof is evident"; (2) when the person charged with a felony offense: (A) has two prior felony convictions, the second conviction being subsequent to the first (both in point of time of commission and conviction); (B) committed the offense while on bail and under indictment for a prior felony; or (C) used a deadly weapon after being convicted of a prior felony; or (3) a district judge may, after a substantial showing of guilt, deny bail to a person accused of a violent or sexual offense while on probation or parole for a prior felony.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the replies and input/information! It's greatly appreciated!

    In regards to calling child protective services, my sister and niece have talked to someone in NY and were told that at this point in time, the stepson is charged with murder, not convicted of murder - innocent until proven guilty, and no court would issue an order to remove him from the home.

    All we know of the wife's family is that her parents are both deceased, and she's got three brothers - one in Texas, one in Arizona, and one in either Michigan or Minnesota, and a sister in Colorado. It's known that one of the brothers is a doctor, and I suspect the bail money came from him.

    In regards to the possibility that the wife may have been involved in the murder, I've suspected that posibility in light of her behavior. If she knows her son reacts with violence, she probably knows what buttons to push to send him over the edge.

    I feel the autopsy report may tell us us something in regards to the wife. If the time of death is an hour or so prior to the wife making the 911 call, it would show some sort of collaboration.

    Jean........I've booked marked those websites and will send them on to my niece (my sister doesn't have a computer). Thank you so much!
    My posts are my opinion..........



  10. #10
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    Jean,
    Thank you so much for the link to the Texas site. I read the whole thing from beginning to end, and it really explains the entire criminal process from arrest to conviction.

    One thing that really jumped out at me, in regards to the rights of the defendant, is this: "the right not to be prosecuted for a felony unless indicted by a grand jury." So this is just part of the process.

    I wondered why the case was going to the grand jury, and why the prosecution didn't just proceed with process of setting a preliminary hearing and a trial date.

    Thanks again!
    My posts are my opinion..........




  11. #11
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    Your welcome, Leila. I am glad the information was of help to you. Please keep us updated if you can.

  12. #12
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    Jean,
    I will be sure to keep the board updated on this case. I just hope we have some sort of news soon. I've got my fingers crossed that this case will be before the grand jury in February rather than March, and that it will move forward as quickly as possible for my sister's sake.
    My posts are my opinion..........



  13. #13
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    One thing that your sister may want to do at some point, is to check into Texas law regarding court ordered grandparent visitation. Some states will order it and some states won't. I'm not sure what Texas law is.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  14. #14
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    Mysteriew,
    Good point! We will check and see what the law is in Texas regarding grandparent visitation.

    The reason why my sister and niece are keeping in contact with the wife on a regular basis is to try to build a rapport with her because of my sister's granddaughter.

    Before his death, my nephew would call his mother (my sister) several times a month and always put his daughter on the telephone to talk to grandma for a few minutes. The maternal grandparents are deceased, and my sister is a widow, so she's the only grandparent.
    My posts are my opinion..........



  15. #15
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    Leila, Texas is huge, with a lot of newspapers and a lot of people.

    Maybe if you could post the one article you know of, or any names of the people involved, or a town?

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