Family pleads for lower sentence for man convicted in cousin's death

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Family members pleaded with a judge to be lenient with a York City man convicted in the shooting death of his cousin more than two years ago. And the judge seemed to listen, ordering a sentence on the low end for the charges in the case.

“Please, your honor! Don’t punish my nephew,” Regina Dawson begged during Devon Moore’s sentencing hearing.

Moore, 28, was sentenced to seven to 14 years in state prison during the hearing Wednesday. The term followed his conviction on charges of third-degree murder and attempted murder, and a misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter at the end of his trial in October. The terms on all three charges were ordered to run at the same time.

More:Body with gunshot wound found, police investigating

More:York City restaurant closing after deadly attempted robbery

More:Up to 6 inches of snow overnight in York County, with another hit coming this weekend

The maximum sentence Moore could have faced on all three counts was 45 to 90 years in prison if the terms ran consecutively.

Moore was accused of starting a shootout that led to the death of his cousin, Solomon Moore, 31, on West King Street in October 2019.

Devon K. Moore

Devon Moore apparently fired the first shots as the two encountered Marvin Butler, of York. Butler returned fire, and his shots killed Solomon Moore as he ran. Devon Moore was also shot and injured in the incident. He walked with a cane as he entered the courtroom Wednesday.

Moore’s attorney, Ron Gross, moved for extraordinary relief, seeking acquittal on the charges, prior to the sentencing. He argued that though a jury found Moore guilty, the evidence in the case was insufficient to prove the felony charges. He focused on the elements of malice and intent, saying those were not met.

“That specific intent as it relates to attempted murder is legally not sufficient,” Gross said.

Judge Harry Ness said he wouldn’t consider the motion during the hearing but would instead wait to receive post-sentencing motions to make a decision on whether or not to acquit Moore.

Gross then argued for a lenient sentence, proposing about seven years of home detention. Among his points, he said Moore didn’t have a criminal record before the shootout. He also noted Moore was never caught in violation of supervised release during the 500-plus days between when he was freed on bail in April 2020 and when he was taken back into custody after his conviction.

Moore’s mother and aunts pleaded for a light sentence with the hope of keeping their family intact.

“Please have mercy on my son, and please shine some light at the end of this tunnel. That’s all I’m asking,” said Leticia Moore, Devon’s mother.

Regina Dawson, Devon Moore’s aunt and Solomon Moore’s mother, sobbed as she testified that the men were inseparable, as close as brothers, and that she didn’t want Devon Moore to go to prison over the incident.

“My son and my nephew was best friends, they were like brothers,” Dawson said. “It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair.”

In a letter to the court, Moore’s other aunt, Tanya Moore, said the family wasn’t attempting to “evade accountability.” What she asked, though, was for Judge Ness to consider the trauma the family has already endured.

“With the incarceration of my nephew Devon, we have been at a standstill as it relates to our ability to heal,” Tanya Moore wrote. “We are hoping to reunite with Devon in a timely fashion so that we may continue to heal as a family.”

>> Like what you're reading? Consider subscribing to The York Dispatch.

Assistant District Attorney Lewis Reagan said the state wouldn’t object to a lighter sentence as he took the family’s pleas into account and agreed with Gross’ points that Moore had a clean record and avoided trouble while on house arrest. Reagan balanced that by also arguing Moore “acted in a grossly reckless manner” during the shootout.

“The victims do not want to see a harsh punishment for the defendant,” Reagan said. “But let’s not pretend that Mr. Moore was an innocent bystander.”

In addition, Reagan noted a proposed plea agreement in the case was rejected prior to the trial.

Judge Ness also called out Moore by saying he hadn’t taken responsibility for what the judge described as an “extraordinarily unnecessary tragedy.”

“I’m discouraged that the defendant, as wonderful a person as he is, can’t even accept that he played a role,” Ness said, referring back to the family’s glowing remarks about Moore.

Ness rejected Gross’ proposal for home detention by mentioning the probation department had already mitigated several points in its recommendation.

“He’s going to stay at somebody’s home, but it’s not going to be his,” Ness said.

He then issued the sentence, with seven to 14 years in prison each on the murder and attempted murder charges and one to two years in prison on the involuntary manslaughter count. All the terms were ordered to run concurrently.

Moore declined to comment during the hearing.

Shortly before Moore’s conviction, Butler pleaded guilty to manslaughter and gun charges, and he was sentenced to eight to 20 years in prison.

— Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.