Motion for expert OK#8217;d

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A judge approved a motion Wednesday for an Ironton man accused of killing his grandmother to have an expert testify about police methodology and false confessions.

Warren Morford Jr., defense attorney for Jason D. Mooney, has said that his client suffers from attention deficit disorder and would be “vulnerable to suggestibility” and therefore more easily swayed to confess to the crime “because he saw that was the only way to get out of that room.”

Morford said it was imperative to have an expert testify in the case, saying that if it goes to trial the jurors would “ask why would the defendant admit to something he didn’t do?”

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Morford said the jurors would hear a police tape in which Mooney allegedly confessed to the murder.

“As the court is aware, he gave a statement implicating himself in the matter of his grandmother’s death,” Morford said. “I feel it is imperative that we are able to show to a jury, and be able to attack the credibility, of this alleged statement, or confession, however the state cares to phrase it.”

He added they needed an expert to testify on police interrogations, their methods, and the fact, sometimes, “false confessions do result.”

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier did not oppose the motion, but asked that the state be allowed to bring in its own witness to testify on Mooney’s mental condition and asked for written copies of both experts’ conclusions to be made available to all parties.

Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper approved the motion for an expert for Mooney, but put a limit on the cost.

“I don’t want to just open the county treasury for this,” he said. “So I am going to limit any budget for this expert” at between $5,000 and $6,000.

He added that he wasn’t going to pre-approve the experts, but asked both sides to submit the curriculum vitae, or professional resume, to him.

After the motion hearing, Morford said he wanted Dr. Solomon Fulero, a licensed psychologist from Dayton, to examine Mooney.

“Fulero is an academic, an author, and internationally recognized expert in this field,” he said.

Collier said he didn’t contest the motion because “it’s important that everyone is afforded a fair trial.”

“The confession is damning, he admits to the brutal murder of his grandmother in a horrible way,” he said. “Based on that, I think the jury would be likely to convict.”

He said he wanted some independent information.

“If there is a legitimate explanation he didn’t do this and he made this confession up, which is hard for me to understand, then we should at least hear it,” Collier said. “Whether or not it is a false statement or if he is trying to get out of going to the penitentiary for the rest of his life.”

He said he would like to bring in Dr. Philip J. Resnick, who has been a consultant on such high profile cases as the Oklahoma City bombings, the murder trial of Andrea Yates (the Texas mother who drowned her five children), serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and most recently the Megan Goff murder trial.

Collier said he hasn’t talked to Resnick yet.

“We will certainly call him and see if there is a basis to the issues being raised,” Collier said.

Mooney, 29, of 2116 S. Sixth St., was arrested after his grandmother, Thelma Mooney, was found stabbed to death at her Thomas Street residence on Feb. 18. He was charged with aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence, aggravated burglary and aggravated murder. He remains in jail under a $1 million bond. His wife, Lisa Mooney, was also charged in the case but the charges were later dropped. He remains in jail under a $1 million bond.