York man pleads guilty to slashing throat of co-worker
A former Buffalo Wild Wings employee has pleaded guilty to cutting the throat of a co-worker in the West Manchester Township restaurant's kitchen last year.
Clarence James Moore, 39, of York City, pleaded guilty Thursday, Sept. 7, in York County Court to first-degree felony aggravated assault, according to senior deputy prosecutor Jonathan Blake.
It was an open plea, meaning there was no negotiated agreement with the prosecution regarding Moore's punishment, Blake said. However, the prosecution agreed to withdraw a count of attempted murder after Moore is sentenced, Blake said.
Presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness set sentencing for Oct. 5 and ordered a full pre-sentence investigation to help him determine a proper punishment, according to court records.
Intimidation case: Blake said Moore decided to plead guilty on the eve of trial after Ness ruled the prosecution was allowed to introduce evidence from Moore's related and pending witness-intimidation case to show his "consciousness of guilt" in the throat-slashing case.
Also, according to Blake, had Moore's attorney mounted a self-defense argument at trial, the prosecution would have been allowed to introduce Moore's 2007 aggravated assault conviction from Philadelphia.
Defense attorney Heather Reiner said her client never intended to kill his former co-worker, Quanna Coakley.
"It was a fight. There were words going back and forth," she said. "Things got out of hand."
Reiner said Thursday's plea was the appropriate resolution, and one that relieved Moore.
"He's obviously happy the district attorney's office is withdrawing the attempted homicide charge," she said.
State prison expected: She and Blake confirmed Moore is facing a state prison sentence.
"We're hoping for five to 10 years," Reiner told The York Dispatch.
Blake said he will review the pre-sentence investigation once it's completed before deciding how much prison time to ask Judge Ness to impose.
Coakley, 24, of York City, required stitches to his neck to close the wound, according to court documents.
West Manchester Township Police were called to Buffalo Wild Wings in the West Manchester Town Center about 5 p.m. March 26, 2016, for a report of employees fighting.
They found Coakley bleeding from the neck and another employee putting pressure on the wound, documents state.
Fight preceded slashing: Police have said Coakley and Moore argued, and that blows were exchanged.
Moore grabbed a box cutter from a nearby table and cut Coakley's throat, according to police.
Surveillance footage from the restaurant showed Moore and Coakley arguing in the kitchen and showed Moore throw one or two punches at Coakley, who fought back, according to police.
The video showed Moore had an object in his hand as he was assaulting Coakley, who grabbed his neck and ran to the manager's office, documents state.
Moore then fled the restaurant but was tracked down and arrested a short time later at the nearby Walmart, court documents state.
Intimidation alleged: Moore remains charged with two counts of first-degree felony witness intimidation for allegedly threatening an eyewitness in the case who also happens to be a York County Prison corrections officer.
According to charging documents, the officer worked part time at Buffalo Wild Wings and witnessed Moore cut Coakley's throat. He no longer works at the restaurant but is still a prison guard.
Moore has been locked up since the attack and tried on two or three occasions to speak with the corrections officer, documents allege.
On May 3, 2016, Moore succeeded in having a conversation with the officer, despite being prohibited from contacting witnesses in the case, documents state.
Moore allegedly told the corrections officer, "It's in your best interest not to testify against me," documents allege. The guard took this as a threat and reported it to his supervisor, West Manchester Township Police said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.