New trial opens of man known as ‘Teflon Defendant’


Defendant Corey Moore leaves the D.C. Superior Court after a fourth mistrial. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday opened what is expected to be a week-long drug and weapons trial against Corey Moore, who earned the nickname the “Teflon Defendant” by winning a series of criminal cases dating back more than 20 years.

“The evidence is straightforward and strong,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner said in his opening statement at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

The prosecutor laid out the government’s case based on events that he said took place more than two years ago in Takoma Park, when Moore tried to run away from a police officer. As the officer chased him, Lenzner said, two civilian witnesses saw him toss a package into a dumpster before he was apprehended in a parking lot a short distance away.

That package, according to prosecutors, turned out to contain 1.2 pounds of cocaine. Later, when officers searched Moore’s nearby apartment, they found a gallon-sized pickle jar under the kitchen sink filled with liquid phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP, a loaded .38-caliber revolver, a .44-caliber semiautomatic pistol and $44,000 in cash inside a brown shopping bag.

Moore, 37, faces up to life in prison if convicted on all counts.

His attorney, Brian K. McDaniel, chose not to give an opening statement Tuesday, a tactic used by defense attorneys when they don’t want to tip their hand about what they will be presenting. The trial is not being heard in front of a jury, but will be decided by U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr.

McDaniel’s cross-examination of witnesses Tuesday suggested that he will lay out a defense that Moore didn’t toss anything into the dumpster and he doesn’t know how the weapons and drugs got inside his apartment.

Prosecutors called two witnesses Tuesday who testified to watching the foot chase. They described seeing a man running through a parking lot outside their condominium building who appeared to be clutching a plastic-wrapped package “football-style,” one of the witnesses said.

Both witnesses said they saw the man run on the far side of a dumpster and saw the package arching through the air toward the dumpster. Under cross-examination, both witnesses said they could not be sure the man sitting in the courtroom Tuesday was the person they saw being chased.

Earlier, Takoma Park Police Officer Keith Hubley testified about stopping Moore as he walked down the street. The officer said he suspected that Moore was carrying an open bottle of beer. When he tried to question Moore, the officer testified, Moore began running.

Hubley said he never lost sight of Moore as he chased him and saw him toss a package as he ran by the dumpster. Hubley took Moore into custody a short distance away in a parking lot.

Two days later, police searched Moore’s nearby apartment. Moore was not there at the time.

To try to establish that the guns in the apartment belonged to Moore, prosecutors may introduce evidence from a 2004 case in which Moore was charged, but ultimately acquitted, of illegally possessing a .357-caliber revolver.

Prosecutors tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to block evidence of Moore’s exchange with a Takoma Park officer on the day of his arrest that they called “self-serving” because it suggested that Moore had another reason for running that had nothing to do with the drugs found in the dumpster. When the officer asked Moore why he had run, he motioned toward a canister of pepper spray removed from his pocket and essentially said, “I ran because of that,” according to court documents.

Post staff writer Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County, Md.
Ann covers legal affairs in the District and Maryland for the Washington Post. Ann previously covered state government and politics in California, New Hampshire and Maryland. She joined the Post in 2005.
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