Three men have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole in a ‘murder-for-hire’ plot that should only play out in nightmares, not in real life.
In August 2011, Leon Moss, Christopher Spates and Donald White conspired to execute Moss’ ex-girlfriend. The woman was scheduled to testify against Moss in a domestic assault case within a week of her murder. Moss faced up to ten years in prison in that case.
“Moss didn’t care about A.Y. or her family; he decided that A.Y.’s life was worth less than the potential of serving a few years in prison,” wrote Assistant Circuit Attorney Jennifer Szczucinski in court documents. “Moss took A.Y. from her family and left A.Y.’s daughter without a mother, all because he refused to participate in the criminal justice system. Moss was cold, calculated and displayed an utter disregard for human life. “
Evidence at trial showed that Moss agreed to pay $10,000 in exchange for killing the woman. Spates was captured on camera as he shot A.Y. 11 times at point-blank range. White helped to facilitate the crime and destroy the evidence.
On October 3rd, a St. Louis jury found all three men guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Thursday, a judge sentenced them to serve life in prison plus an additional 30 years.
“These convictions and sentences send a clear message to criminals that our community will not stand for these sick and heinous crimes,” said Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce. “ACA Szczucinski and other members of the team did not rest until these killers were brought to justice, pouring a colossal amount of energy into the case. I am incredibly grateful for the work of CAO staff, for the dogged investigative efforts of St. Louis Police detectives and for the critical testimony from witnesses who helped to ensure the community’s safety from these murderers.”
Though slightly more common in domestic violence cases, Circuit Attorney Joyce noted that retaliation against victims or witnesses of crimes is extremely rare. In 2013, about .12% of charges filed in the Circuit Attorney’s Office were for tampering with a witness or victim.
“The public must not allow a misperception of retaliation to silence them,” she said. “When we fear speaking out, the criminals prevail. We must all work together to seek justice for victims everywhere.”