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Richard Moore guilty on all counts for brutal Danville murder

Union Leader Correspondent

May 17. 2018 2:36PM
Accused killer Richard Moore chose not to testify on the final day of testimony Thursday in his first-degree murder trial in Rockingham County Superior Court. (Jason Schreiber/Correspondent)

This image of murder victim Jo-Anne Boucher was shown to jurors during closing arguments Thursday in Richard Moore's murder trial.

BRENTWOOD — After deliberating for less than an hour, a jury on Thursday found Richard Moore guilty on all counts in the brutal slaying of Jo-Anne Boucher inside her Danville home.

The 38-year-old Moore showed no emotion as jurors in Rockingham County Superior Court convicted him of first- and second-degree murder and arson for repeatedly stabbing Boucher on Sept. 2, 2016 and then setting her body on fire.

Moore, who will be sentenced Friday morning, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The verdict was one of the swiftest Associate Attorney General Jane Young has seen. She attributed it to the work of the state and local police, the state fire marshal’s office, and other agencies that had a hand in the case.

Jurors also heard Moore’s recorded confessions in which he detailed how he killed and burned his ex-girlfriend.

“Certainly there was overwhelming evidence of his guilt and the jury coming back in under an hour stated that as well,” Young said.

Moore’s defense described him as an innocent man who was pressured into giving a false confession while prosecutors said he followed through on threats to kill his ex-girlfriend. 

In closing arguments, Young told jurors that the evidence pointed to Moore as the one who punched, strangled and then stabbed Boucher several times in the basement before covering her with sheets and other materials and lighting her on fire to cover up the crime. 

“You know this because of the physical evidence. You know this because of the defendant’s own words,” Young said, referring to statements he had made in the hours before Boucher was murdered, threatening to kill her and recorded confessions he gave to police investigators and his sister, January Leighton.

Anna Hansen, left, a long-time friend of murder victim Jo-Anne Boucher, and Boucher's sister, Denise Russell, speak about the jury's guilty verdict outside the courtroom. (Jason Schreiber/Correspondent)

Prosecutors said Moore, who was living with Boucher in her residence at 23 Caramel Drive, was angry that she didn’t pick him up after work and that he was forced to walk nearly an hour to get home.

During that time, he received calls from a prison inmate and made statements about harming Boucher. 

He also sent Facebook messages to his then 18-year-old nephew, Timothy Leighton, saying he was going to kill Boucher. Leighton testified that he didn’t think Moore was being serious when he sent the message.

In his closing argument, public defender Joseph Malfitani told jurors that Moore gave a false confession because he “succumbed to pressure” and the “presumption that he was responsible for the death.”

Malfitani dismissed the Facebook message in which he threatened to kill her as nothing more than a joke and argued that Moore’s sister pressured him to confess because she was trying to protect her son, who had received the Facebook messages and was worried that police might think he was an accessory to the crime.

The quick verdict brought relief to Boucher’s family members who sat through this week’s trial and still mourn her death.

“God answered prayers. He brought us justice, but it doesn’t bring her back. She had so many plans. She had so many things she wanted to do,” Boucher’s sister, Denise Russell, said through tears outside the courtroom.

Gordon Smith, who described Boucher as his aunt, praised prosecutors for their handling of the case.

“It’s great to have someone like that off the streets, away from doing harm to others potentially in the future,” he said. 

An emotional Anna Hansen, Boucher’s friend of 40 years, recalled how she heard about the murder and had to call Russell in Florida to give her the news.

“That’s one of the worst days of our lives, right there. From then on you just live day to day and there’s nothing you can do about it because she’s gone,” Hansen said.

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