COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho -- Footage from the body camera of slain Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Greg Moore gripped jurors and others listening to the first day of testimony in the murder trial of Jonathan D. Renfro.
Wearing black-framed glasses and a matching suit, Renfro looked on as 10 witnesses testified Monday. Their testimony was sometimes emotional as they recounted their recollections of May 15, 2015, when Moore was shot in the face and killed while on patrol by himself.
Renfro, 29, faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
Moore, a 16-year veteran of the department, was shot in the head after he encountered Renfro around 1:30 a.m. in a quiet Coeur d’Alene neighborhood after suspicion of car prowling.
Renfro, also accused of stealing Moore’s patrol car as he lay dying in the street, “has justified his actions as being noble – claiming that cops will now think twice before being aggressive with individuals,” according to court documents.
This was among the many points Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Dave Robins told jurors on Monday in a 33-minute opening statement.
“While out dressed in dark clothing. While out and violating the terms of his parole, and while carrying a stolen Glock handgun and five rounds of ammunition, (Renfro) shot Sgt. Moore, the one person sworn by oath to stop him,” Robins told jurors.
“He shot him because he didn’t want to go back to prison. And that is why Greg is dead,” he added. .
Linda Payne, Renfro’s public defender, delivered an opening statement that lasted six minutes.
Payne noted that a friend injected Renfro with so much methamphetamine that he didn’t know what he was doing that night.
He feared for his own life when approached by Moore, said Payne. She said Renfro may be guilty of voluntary manslaughter, but not first-degree murder.
“The evidence will show that Sgt. Moore put his hand on his weapon, and what’s when (Renfro) shot,” Payne said. “It was simply a raw and instinctual reaction to potentially being shot himself.”
For seven hours Monday, jurors heard testimony from witnesses that included Coeur d’Alene police Chief Lee White; 911 dispatcher Tina Tipke; Chris Werts, the first civilian to see Moore’s body in the street after the shooting; John Andrich, Renfro’s former parole officer; and Coeur d’Alene police Officer Jake Pleger, the first officer to arrive on the scene of the shooting.
Seven of the 10 witnesses were members of Coeur d’Alene-area law enforcement.
Moore’s bodycam video showed him questioning Renfro for a couple minutes before Renfro shot him in the face.
In Pleger’s ensuing dashcam video, he arrives to find Moore lying on his back in the street.
“Greg! Greg!” Pleger screams as he sprints out of his patrol car toward Moore’s motionless body.
“After he didn’t answer (dispatch) the first time, I immediately ran to my car,” Pleger told the jury. “I knew something wasn’t right. That was his big thing; always answer dispatch the first time.”
The trial, schedule to last six weeks, may end much sooner.
Robins told Judge Lansing Haynes late in the court proceedings Monday that it was going much faster than anticipated, and that the prosecution could rest its case as soon as Friday.
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