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The clouds are sheep: pure white, parading in rows. They spread fanlike against the late-morning sun. A few humps huddle to the side of the horizon, delinquent. Wasn’t it supposed to be cooler than this?
On another afternoon, the clouds grow purple. Was supposed to rain. But not yet.
And still another day, another moment when the sun floods the horizon and everything feels sticky. Wasn’t it supposed to be chill?
These are the questions Corey Moore asks. Questions that ring weightless and without sting. Just little-boy questions. The weather is the one thing Moore will talk about openly.
Moore doesn’t like questions. Questions have taken up most of his life—he has had to answer those pointed motherfuckers since he was, like, 13. Now he’s 25. So many questions. Like when he started growing long enough legs to leave his grandmother’s house unnoticed: “Why weren’t you in school today?” As he got older, there were others, questions that if answered incorrectly could have put him in a prison cell. Ones like “Did you kill the skinny guy, the one slumped over the steering wheel with a hollow-point bullet in the back of his skull?”
Moore, a teenage-suspect-turned-career-defendant, has spent more years in court than in school, those years broken up by new trials and new juries. The scars from all those questions are barely discernible, but they are there. In the quiet way he talks. In the long spaces between his words, oceans of space. In the way he sits, face expressionless.
So Moore returns to what everyone has to answer to: the weather. When I pick him up, it’s eyes to the sky, face puckered into a squint. “Nice day. I thought it was going to be hotter than it is,” he says one morning. “Do you think it’s going to get hotter?”
Empty talk from an invisible man. Over time, Moore has become invisible. Not in the Hollywood, special-effects way, but in the way the District makes its young poor black men invisible. Some disappear into jail cells for long stretches of time. They end up far away, to be rarely visited, in places like Youngstown, Ohio, and Waverly, Va. Some disappear forever, 6 feet under. And some lucky ones—like Moore—learn to become social vapor.
Magicians create diversions. Army grunts camouflage. Pickpockets steal with ease. You may be born with a talent for invisibility, but it works only if you develop it. Once Moore understood that he could become invisible, he studied up on his power, constantly observing people, filing off his rough edges, living along the borders of things, and staying quiet. No joke, you have to eat the right foods and drink the right drinks.
You have to learn the art of not being there. To touch things without leaving fingerprints. To talk to family and friends without really talking. To anticipate every action and reaction. To thread through life. The only unfortunate part is that because you are a living blank screen, you must accept what others project onto you. That you just deal with—because they don’t get to be invisible, and you do.
What does invisibility look like? It’s short (5-foot-4) and stocky (about 150 pounds after many, many pull-ups). It’s a face—cheekbones, eyes, mustache—that resembles a mask. It’s brown eyes redacted of all meaning except the phrase: “I am innocent.” What does it act like? It’s television at 4 a.m., all pleasant infomercials and Latter-Day Saints morality plugs. It never gets upset, afraid, or angry. Its voice is barely audible.
Unlike many other invisible men, Moore has managed to remain invisible for roughly a decade.
On April 22, 1992, he allegedly killed Robert “Chucky” Butler. He was charged with felony murder while armed. The case was dismissed.
On Oct. 5, 1993, he shot his mother’s boyfriend, Curtis Summers, and was charged with assault with intent to kill while armed, among other gun charges. He was found not guilty.
On Dec. 25, 1993, he allegedly robbed Daniel Cortes at gunpoint. He was charged with armed robbery and two other gun-related charges. He was found not guilty.
On Oct. 27, 1994, he allegedly shot and killed Byron Hammond and wounded Reginald Jackson. He was charged with second-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and other gun-related charges. He was tried four times, each trial resulting in a hung jury.
On Nov. 4, 1994, he was caught allegedly
in possession of a semiautomatic assault rifle. He was charged with various gun-possession counts. He was found guilty of only one
On Jan. 28, 1995, he stabbed fellow inmate Eugene Mills to death and was charged with first-degree murder while armed, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and threatening to injure a person. He was found not guilty.
This spring, the FBI noted his rap sheet and classified him as “one of the most dangerous individuals in the District of Columbia.” But, for now, after the dismissal of all charges in the Hammond case, Moore is free and clear.
In early April, about a week after his fourth mistrial was declared and the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided to drop the Hammond case, Moore wants to return to Superior Court. He has agreed to talk with me, share the secrets of his invisibility—his first interview with any reporter. First stop, there’s a trial we need to watch.
The sky has recently settled into a warm humid blanket, but Moore prefers to wear his knee-length black leather coat just in case temperatures drop along Indiana Avenue NW. He smiles and says nothing. Just turns to me, flashing a grin, as we head toward Superior Court’s double doors.
Once there, I get a tour of Moore’s adulthood. There are the cigarette urns where friends smoked. The floors where he and his family paced. The places where he sat wondering whether he would get a life sentence. And there are a lot of people like him. Defendants. A lot of people wanting to be like him. Invisible.
More turns. More smiles.
“I know what he’s going to say,” Moore declares with a touch of arrogance, referring to the man in the cheap baby-blue suit standing at the heel of the second-floor escalator. It’s a defense attorney, one he’s had before. We run into a lot of his old “friends.” The old lawyers, the old metal-detector heads, the old marshals, the old prosecutors, the old cops. They offer handshakes. They point. They look up from their legal briefs. They lower their cell phones from their ears and wave. All wondering why he’s back in court, after all those years and all those trials. All repeating the advice the defense attorney gives: “You’d better get your ass out of here.”
Moore, being invisible, doesn’t have to answer them. And he doesn’t. Not really. He just sort of mumbles a joke about Superior Court being his new home. Something like that.
The real reason for his homecoming Moore saves for a whisper in Judge Michael Rankin’s second-floor courtroom. He takes a seat in the back, ignores the girls in Destiny’s Child- wannabe tops and skintight jeans sitting before him, and focuses his attention on the defendants, the witness stand, and the lawyers.
The two defendants are friends of Moore’s from his old Congress Park stomping grounds. They have been charged with assault with intent to kill. A Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) detective has just taken the witness stand. He goes through an eyewitness’s identification of one defendant. He says that at first the witness picked out the wrong man, a Mr. Black. Only later did the witness pick out the man now sitting sheepishly in the courtroom. The detective says he is sure the witness got the right guy that time.
With that, the defense attorney, who happens to be another of Moore’s old lawyers, Bernie Grimm, gets up to ask his own questions.
Moore leans over to me, a smirk on his face. “Watch this.”
Grimm circles and highlights some of the detective’s answers—the ones that erase his defendant from the crime scene. Gradually, the questions sharpen. All start to elicit the same response: The witness picked the wrong man. After a while, the pained, poor detective can offer only this: “I believe he was telling the truth.”
Grimm cuts him off. “Like he did with Mr. Black.”
The air in the courtroom just changes currents. My heart jumps in its cage. But it’s not fear I’m feeling. It’s something different: relief—refrigerated, cool relief. There’s doubt in this courtroom.
The moment has arrived. Invisibility.
Moore first discovered he could make things invisible when he was a small boy. It started with events—just sightings, really—that he learned to erase. Like the memory of being 7 and meeting his father for the first time, after church, by chance at a bus stop (the corner of 14th and T Streets NW). And then watching him ask his one and only question—”How you doin’?”—and then hit on Moore’s mother before walking away for good.
Growing up in the 800 block of Portland Street SE in a house shared with his mom, his three siblings, his grandmother, and the welfare checks, Moore learned to ignore poverty. And when his mother would get drunk nearly every day on her favorite Hennessy cognac, he learned to make that go away, too. When she was unable to take care of herself, he was there. “She would pass out or throw up,” he remembers. “I would clean up the vomit, put a cold rag on her forehead, give her ginger ale in the morning.”
When his mother was too drunk to cook, Moore eased his and his siblings’ hunger by making friends with the kitchen. By the time he was a teen, he had learned to fry anything—trout, hash browns, eggs, chicken.
Moore had a thing with bruises, too. As he developed his new magic, he realized he could make his mother’s wounds, the ones she got at the hands of her boyfriend, invisible. The knots in her head, the black eyes, the fat lips and swollen ribs all could vanish if he applied dozens of cold compresses, dispensed Tylenol after Tylenol.
So much Moore had to make go away. Eventually, there would be nights when Moore’s mother wouldn’t come home. By the time his age reached double digits, he was improvising his own living arrangements. Flirting with his own disappearing act. He would float between his grandmother’s house, his mother’s new apartment on Brothers Place SE, and friends’ couches.
Then there was skipping school. Moore would of course get caught; the letters from Terrell Elementary were dead giveaways. But in the seventh grade, he dropped out of school for good. He couldn’t ignore the problems at home. Home was chaos—his mom was still addicted to alcohol and her abusive boyfriend, and his older sister was starting to have kids of her own. Few comforts.
“He got tired of the way we was living,” says Andre Richardson, Moore’s younger brother. “I know how he felt, because that’s how I felt. He got tired of it. Just like I got tired of it.”
Moore had seen invisibility in others and wanted to prove to himself he could be that way, too. Lots of older guys sold drugs. They sold them in parks. They sold them in front of liquor stores. They sold them on corners. And nobody ever seemed to really see them. But everyone saw the kind of money they made, the cars they drove, the ease on their faces. The neighborhoods he roamed along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, places such as Orange Street and Congress Park, all seemed filled with these invisible dudes.
“Some guys get caught, and some don’t,” Moore says now. “They act like they had no worries.”
It was intoxicating. No worries. Only trouble was that when Moore started selling crack himself, he didn’t seem invisible. He felt as if he had banks of klieg lights fixed on him. There was the problem of his baby face. And there was the fact that he was 4-foot-9, 100 pounds, and all of 12 years old. He wasn’t invisible—he was an easy target.
Older dudes would simply take his drugs. Because Moore didn’t carry a weapon, those types of transactions were cake. “I wasn’t seasoned,” he recalls with a chuckle. “I thought that was how you supposed to do it.”
Richardson remembers his brother’s crack-dealing days as a dismal failure. Moore couldn’t ever gauge the rhythms between the sellers, the buyers, and the cops with any accuracy. He couldn’t fade from view. “Anytime he really got comfortable, got into hustling, he ended up getting locked up,” says Richardson, 21, who is currently locked up himself, at the D.C. Jail for a domestic-violence charge. “He didn’t end up on the street for too long. For the last 10 years of my life, I only seen him for about three months. Even though he’s my brother and I love him, I don’t really know him too much.”
On Halloween night 1988, Moore, 13, got busted with crack in his pockets. He says he was scared. “I know my mother was going to find out that I was doing something,” he says.
The busts kept coming. Two years later, Moore got into a beef with a guy along 14th Place SE. They fought, and he ended up stabbing the guy. “It was a fight,” he explains. “Even though it resulted in the guy got stabbed, that was all about survival of the fittest. You got to fight back.”
That same year Moore got busted for the knife fight, he got caught driving a motorcycle he had stolen off a pipehead, and he was also busted with a pistol. In 1991, he got caught with pot. Not exactly careful stuff. He found himself locked up in local juvenile facilities, Cedar Knoll and Oak Hill, and a center in Portsmouth, Va. The usual places.
Moore’s experiments with invisibility had all failed. It couldn’t just be dabbled in. It had to be a lifestyle choice, a state of being. It was like back when he was playing peewee football for the local police Boys and Girls Club, running through tacklers to score: He could outrun his pursuers for only so long. Eventually, no matter how fast he was, he’d get tackled. No, he had to think of himself as a high-tech submarine, one that strikes only when it wants to be seen. He had to go underground.
On Dec. 30, 1991, Moore did just that—for good. According to court documents, a custody order was issued for his arrest that day. He had escaped from the youth facility in Portsmouth. He was never caught. From that point on, he would stay human Wite-Out, his invisible current switched on. The only words attached to him were “allegedly” and “suspect.”
Especially after April 22, 1992. On that unseasonably warm and sunny afternoon, according to court documents, Moore and his friend Jamal Johnson went to find Robert “Chucky” Butler in the 400 block of Orange Street SE. Butler was a local drug dealer as well as a good friend of Johnson’s. But their reasons for meeting him were not so friendly. They wanted to shake him down, according to what Johnson told friends.
About 4:15 p.m., the two found Butler at the home of James Buchanan, a 50-year-old man with no criminal record, at 438 1/2 Orange St. Buchanan let the two in and, after a moment, went into the kitchen. According to court documents, Buchanan later said the two “talked about some money.” More specifically, they asked Butler for $5. Butler told them he had no money. One pulled out a pistol. Butler, according to Johnson’s account to friends, pleaded for his life.
Buchanan told police that Johnson’s companion—not Johnson—held “the gun in the apartment,” court records say. One shot later, Butler fell to the living-room floor. His assailants fled. But not before Moore, according to Buchanan’s statement to police, smacked Buchanan in the head with his pistol. Butler would die from a gunshot wound to the right side of his chest. Before he died, Butler told police Johnson shot him.
On May 2, 1992, at about 7:50 a.m., Buchanan was shown nine black-and-white MPD file photos. According to court records, the witness “positively identified” a photograph of Corey Moore as the “suspect he observed holding the gun, and who struck [Buchanan] in the forehead with the gun.”
“He took that particular photograph and he dropped it on the table and closed the rest of the photographs in his hand,” testified Detective Timothy A. Doughty during a preliminary hearing on Aug. 10, 1992. “And I said, ‘Is that him?’ He said, ‘Yup, that’s him.’ I said, ‘Are you sure?’ He said, ‘Yes.’”
Arrest warrants were issued for both Moore and Johnson. Johnson would be caught, on June 11, but his accomplice never would. After a few months under police protection, according to residents, Buchanan told the police to stop guarding his place. He thought enough time had gone by that both suspects must be in custody.
On July 27, the witness was fatally shot seven times in the head and chest two doors from his house at about 6:45 p.m., according to police records. He was walking home.
Weeks later, the murder charges in the Butler case would be dropped against Moore. The only other eyewitness could pick out only Johnson. He could describe what the other assailant was wearing, but he couldn’t identify him.
It has long been suspected by police, prosecutors, and the Orange Street community that Moore shot Buchanan. But no one ever came forward as an eyewitness.
That day, police sources say, Moore was reportedly in the area. Informants told several officers that Moore had been seen standing in front of Buchanan’s house as if he were just waiting for him.
Four days after Buchanan was killed, Moore turned himself in to address the Butler murder arrest warrant. “I heard you were looking for me,” he said to the cops at the 7th District police station.
They didn’t kill that guy. The one the evidence technician is talking about, the one who ended up at the 400 block of Valley Avenue SE with copper-jacketed bullets in his body, 16 shell casings surrounding him like confetti.
May: I’m with Moore in another courtroom. This time, we watch a bit of the K Street Crew trial in District Court. We sit in the back row and take in the technician’s testimony about the dead guy. After a few minutes, Moore motions for us to leave. We go out to the hallway, and he whispers his observations. The K Street Crew had nothing to do with that guy.
“I know the guy who did the murder,” Moore says. “It’s not any one of the guys in this case. I know they had nothing to do with that one.”
The defendants we see are all Corey Moores. The drug dealers, the kidnappers, the murderers in Superior Court are always innocent in Moore’s eyes. The kingpins in District Court, too. They include the K Street Crew. They include guys who fled to London after allegedly butchering their girlfriends.
All Corey Moores. All could be Corey Moores. They are all part of the first generation of crack-dealing babies. Guys he grew up with, whose names he heard, you know, around. The ones who saw big money growing up, not in the schools and basketball courts, but in the hand-to-hand drug deals. They dropped out early and set up lemonade stands in a different world.
A world of corners and flophouses and situational ethics. A zone where murders went by other names: revenge, respect, the rules of the game. A climate where relatives and friends seldom pressed you about where the money came from, why you had ended up in jail. To Moore’s own family, he was always innocent. If not, they didn’t want to know. Messy stuff.
When you get inside a courtroom, no one understands you. But Moore does. He sees the conspiracy of corrupt prosecutors and paid informants. Somewhere in this network of badges and guns and money, he is there for you.
“Anybody who’s on trial, I share a part of that,” Moore says. “Anybody, anyone.”
It’s lonely in that invisibility suit. Moore sees everything, understands how the game must be played. But there’s no one around to share in the joy of winning innocence. He estimates that 85 percent of the friends he grew up with are or have been in prison. Many other old friends are dead. They rest are either still involved in the trade or are on trial. There’s nobody out and around and invisible like him.
We leave District Court for lunch at his favorite D.C. spot, a vegetarian restaurant called Da Place. Located on H Street NE’s retail strip, it’s a cozy joint that smells of lentils and incense and old furniture. Used books (black power from the ’70s, New Age from the ’80s) stack along the walls. African muzak bubbles out of the stereo system.
This is the place where Moore can read up on his invisibility, can feel not so isolated. As an invisible man, he believes in unseen global forces: the Committee of 300, the New World Order, the Illuminati, the corporate media domination. The books on these conspiracies are all here.
Moore recommends to me The Secret Science, a book on hermetic philosophy. It reads: “True sages, similar to the sphinx, are silent, and only occasionally raise a corner of the veil.”
Moore settles on a lentil-and-potato stew and a $12.50 bottle of gut-cleaning liquefied roots called Mega Raga. After we leave, he informs me that the manager of Da Place is one of his “true friends.” He is “friends” with a lot of other store clerks—the guy behind the counter at Brown’s Market in Suitland, the guy who runs the Caravan bookstore in Oxon Hill. His list of buddies also includes a preacher (whose pager number that Moore offers comes up disconnected), an activist who sees Moore as an example of police-state tactics, his young son, his family, and his “spiritual mother” he met while in prison on the gun charge.
We stop by her house. We ogle her Buddha, bask in her teacherly wisdom, and lie on her couch. Moore barely says anything. Just sits and listens. He’s not much of a conversationalist. He’s a “Right on!” kind of guy; he follows her sentences around the room with little “yes”es.
In the car ride to his son’s mother’s Suitland apartment, Moore goes quiet. He lives nowhere, shuffling from one relative to another. Four places in all. When we get to the apartment, it’s immaculate. So immaculate that the black leather couch and the metal chairs look desolate against the white carpeting. Looks barely lived-in.
Down the hall in the bedroom, where Moore occasionally sleeps, is the television where he watches Court TV. If the set is on, he says, it’s on Court TV.
One evening, Moore shows me a big cardboard box of his things that he’s brought to the apartment. In that box are two trash bags filled with legal papers, a book on ancient Egyptian philosophy, and a half-dozen pairs of Italian shoes—court shoes. He likes those shoes.
It’s tough being invisible. At the moment, being invisible brings him $150 a month, money given to him by his mother and his baby’s mother, according to his monthly parole report. He hasn’t paid his last attorney. He’s trying to decide where he belongs, what kind of job he wants. He has ideas: a vegetarian restaurant to be called Higher Consciousness, a boxing career, a paralegal career. To figure it all out, he listens to the only constant friends he truly trusts. During his morning meditation, he channels these friends, whom he characterizes as invisible spirits—”guides.” They tell him what to do.
“The most important thing right now is that I’m free,” Moore declares. “Not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. If I want to astroproject, I can do it.”
Moore has dreams. Kid dreams, like the one about marrying Erykah Badu. “I love Erykah Badu,” he gushes. “I believe she’s a goddess.”
I leave for the night. Moore will later tell me about his nightmare, one he’s had many times before: The prosecutors are framing him again. “It’s just me sitting back in front of a jury,” Moore remembers. “Me being innocent and having to prove it. It be the same anxiety, knowing again that I’m framed.”
Later, Moore gives me one of his poems, which he has dedicated to another Corey Moore: his friend James Fowler, currently serving a double life sentence of murder in Maryland:
False allegations and trumped-up charges,
it’s all—part of the largest,
why can’t you see? It’s all a conspiracy, not
just against me,
but you, us, the masses!
They’re riding us like Jackasses,
get off my back!!! I know I’m under attack,
“originally from the land of the black”
hmm, my ancestors already proved that.
1712 on the bank of the James River,
a method was implemented that would
send a shiver,
up your spine like a Kundalini Serpentine,
seek and you shall find,
that our condition is all by design,
an unjust genocidal,
anti-humanitarian vicious crime.
Are you aware of the time? Or do you
think this battle is only in the mind?
AS EVIDENCE, my blood drips,
from the hands of my keepers as I stand
wrongfully convicted of an unjust crime.
Some men might loose their minds,
shit! Two life sentences is a whole lot of
You asked, how could it be?
That evidence surfaced that it wasn’t
me…yet I’m still not free!!!
Moore doesn’t like this guy. Not one bit.
It’s the first week of the death-penalty trial of alleged drug kingpin Tommy Edelin in a fourth-floor courtroom in District Court. Moore has decided to attend the trial in support of Edelin, whom he met in prison and considers a good friend. But there’s this guy who keeps sitting next to Moore. Staring at Moore. Shushing him. Moore warned me about him. Left a frantic cell-phone message about him. Now the guy is starting to give me the creeps, too.
This guy could be from the World Wrestling Federation: bulging, sparked-blue eyes, an imposing body (all trunk) trapped in a navy jacket, tan slacks, and black shoes. The Rock, Moore and I will later learn, is an MPD detective. During the afternoon recess, he chooses to follow Moore around.
The Rock tails Moore and me to the clerk’s office. And just stands there. He doesn’t need to be at the clerk’s office, and neither do we. We just stand there, too, and look at him from the corner of our eyes. Both parties freeze in their best Peter Sellers imitations.
Until Moore and I make a break for it. We head outside and wait. Sure enough, the Rock comes out, gives us the Stare, buys a newspaper, and pretends to read. Real cool. Might as well poke eyeholes in that newspaper.
After the day’s procedures end, I will ask the Rock, who gives his name as Detective Webb, why he has followed Moore to the courthouse. He will deny it, adding that this is a free country, and, well, a courtroom is sure to attract plenty of freedom-loving officers. To officers such as Webb, Moore is the one guilty guy who got away, a guy who still deserves punishment. For now, tailing him will do.
A few days later, Peter Zeidenberg, one of Moore’s old prosecutors from a gun-possession case, will sit behind him during the Edelin trial. The prosecutor will just chuckle. When asked to explain the meaning of that chuckle, he will offer a “No comment.”
By midweek, Moore will go paranoid. He will swear that Detective Scott Gutherie, another officer who spent years hunting him, has followed him to the District Court building. Sure enough, Gutherie’s car will be parked near the courthouse. Evidence, but not necessarily proof of any conspiracy.
“Tell him I said hello,” Gutherie will say, returning to his car, denying any Corey-watch in progress. “I have no hard feelings.”
As Moore continues sitting in on the Edelin trial, detectives spend their early mornings debating his presence. Prosecutors receive word of his every move, down to what he’s wearing that day. One day, he wears surgical scrubs. How do you explain that? Nobody is sure what to make of it.
“I want to know what his motives for being there are,” explains Detective Shelly Anderson, a member of the debate team. “What is his purpose? Is he trying to see who is testifying against Tommy? Is he trying to intimidate the witnesses? Why he would be there is beyond me.”
Detectives are still trying to get a bead on Moore. They have since the 1992 murder of Butler. But it’s an impossible task. Don’t they get it? He’s invisible.
Moore learned from his mistakes. After his scrapes with the law, he soon realized that selling crack and staying invisible were not mutually attainable. So he switched to another poverty trade, selling pit bulls. That was how he met Derek “Reds” Miller, lover of pit bulls and big-time crack dealer.
Moore and Miller got on well. The drug dealer, four years older, adopted Moore as his sidekick and younger sibling. To Moore, Miller was everything. The two hung out every day, according to associates. Moore learned from Miller how to treat the underworld life as a business. “It stems from The Art of War,” Moore says. “To be a businessman, you got to understand the science of protecting and acquiring your empire.”
Miller was also in the business of showing off. He was the type of dealer who liked to flash his money, throw parties, cruise in his 300ZX. A take-everyone-out-to-Houston’s kind of guy. The type who would let you crash at his mother’s house, smoke weed all day in front of the TV set without hassling you. He knew how to have a good time. One acquaintance says he’d even pay girls to party with him.
Moore had found his sugar brother, a mentor who would finally give him an easy life. During the day, he would read Garvey and Malcolm and then go to a Suitland gym, where he trained to be a boxer. The same gym where lots of other Miller associates trained.
If his days were easy, the nights were better. Moore loved getting wasted off Rémy Martin mixed with Coke or grapefruit juice. Even bought Miller his first drink (Cisco), if you can believe it. Moore was known for getting crazy drunk.
Moore had joined the entourage, but the extent of his involvement in Miller’s crack business was sitting in the passenger seat of Miller’s minivan as he went around on his deals, say friends. Perfect if you didn’t want to be seen.
When Moore wanted to go on dates with his then-girlfriend, Aisha Staples, Miller would drive them to the movies and restaurants such as Copeland’s or Friday’s. “Corey didn’t have a license, so Reds would be our chauffeur,” Staples remembers. “He would say, ‘Goodness, you guys are both so quiet.’”
If he was quiet to his girlfriend, Moore was dead to everyone else. According to old dealers, he didn’t frequent the usual hangouts along MLK Avenue. He never loitered at the pay phones at the Amoco Station, the Popeyes parking lot, or Mart Liquors along Malcolm X Avenue. He never tossed dice at the all-night craps games along 2nd Street or sold drugs along the strip of stores that dealers called “the Pound.”
The only thing that kept Moore’s name on the lips of dealers and pipeheads was his reputation. “Anybody get killed on that street, man, everybody say, ‘Corey, Corey, Corey,’” remembers Tyrone Payne, 25, a childhood friend and admitted onetime crack dealer. “The reputation he had—every day, a light bulb that said, ‘Corey.’ Me and him used to talk. I would tell him, ‘Man, you got a fucked-up reputation.’ He was like, ‘You know me better than that.’”
But sometimes, Moore seemed to encourage it. According to one dealer, he was known for threatening Pound prowlers. Just threats. Mostly he stayed to himself. When he hung out, people now say, he never did say much.
“He has always been a wordless person,” says acknowledged ex-dealer Shadid Williams. “I didn’t want to be with Corey. The motherfucker could be with you two hours and not say a word.”
But Moore spoke up loud and clear on Oct. 5, 1993. That evening, he called his mother’s house. When she didn’t answer the phone, he decided to check up on her in person. She was still dating the same abusive boyfriend, Curtis “Rico” Summers. Moore says that when he arrived, Summers and a few of his friends were getting high in the living room. Bags filled with his mother’s stuff—a VCR, a TV, a telephone—were at Summers’ side.
Moore says he told them to leave. When they acquiesced, he set to putting his mother’s stuff away. In her bedroom, sitting on her dresser, was an automatic pistol. He says it was Summers’ gun. He picked it up. Then, he heard the door opening and someone going to the bathroom. He says he immediately turned to go. As he walked down the hallway, he noticed Summers following him. Summers chased and caught him in a stairwell. A fight ensued.
“I pulled the gun out, and I shot,” Moore remembers. Summers was wounded in the chest. “He backed up….I ran down the steps. I was nervous. I didn’t regret it [after] all I saw my mother go through. I felt like he deserved it. I had anger at the same time I had fear.”
Moore would never tell his mother about what happened that night with Summers. He says he couldn’t bear to hurt her.
Teresa Richardson says she never asked her son about his shooting her lover. In fact, she continued to date Summers for a long time before they finally parted ways.
Richardson didn’t want to know. And she still doesn’t want to know. “I couldn’t help myself,” she says. “How could I help him? You’re on welfare, you’re an alcoholic, you’re in an abusive relationship—where do you go?”
A year later, Moore would draw a charge that would land him in prison. On Nov. 4, 1994, he and a friend, Stephen “Bo” Warfield, were hanging outside Ballou High School. That night there was a go-go dance; kids were milling about, and so was the MPD’s undercover Delta Unit, whose mission was to vacuum guns off the street.
Moore and Warfield allegedly approached Officer Dexter Martin. “It was dark, but I had my gun out,” Martin, now an investigator, remembers. “Corey walked toward us. He got 10 feet. He looked at me. I looked at him. I thought this guy had a machine gun. I could see it clearly. The butt was sticking in the shoulder.”
According to Officer Greg Stewart, who was nearby watching through binoculars, you could see the gun sticking through Moore’s jacket—it was that big. A Calico semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round clip.
“What’s up?” Moore asked, according to Martin.
“What’s up with you?” Martin countered. And then silence. Finally, Moore and Warfield backed away. Martin says Moore then deposited his gun in an alley behind a car. He says he didn’t know it was Moore at first.
The rest of the unit quickly zoomed in, and Moore was arrested. When asked, Moore gave his name as “Ty Payne,” according to police records. Moore denies giving that name, saying it was more like “Bill Gates” or some other famous person.
“Ty Payne” was a reference to Tyrone Payne, who was at the dance, and his twin brother, Tyrique, both possible witnesses in the murder the previous month of Byron Hammond. That same night, Moore would be charged with that murder, as well as gun possession.
Moore would eventually be found guilty of possessing not the gun allegedly seen under his jacket, but another one, found in a closet in his sister’s house. He would get the maximum sentence, 51 months. The Hammond case was another story.
Corey Moore is a gutless punk, a stone killer, the ultimate pussy, the devil, a guy who tried to kill his own father, an enforcer for a drug gang known as the Condon Terrace Crew, a killer of four government witnesses associated with the Hammond murder case, a dog who will never ever mend his ways. He doesn’t need those glasses—he can see just fine.
All of this is what some police officers will tell you about Moore. None of these characterizations could the cops prove beyond a reasonable doubt. They are just part of the myth attached to Moore.
It is hard enough solving a murder case—sifting through evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses, conducting lineups, dealing with communities consumed with fear. It is harder still when you spend years trying to convict the same guy over and over again. It inevitably becomes personal.
The dynamic relationship of cop to longtime suspect tilts toward hyperbole—to better justify the long hours, the thousands of dollars spent, the stress, the press coverage. The pursuit of the baddest guy morphs into film-noir epic, and you start calling him a pussy. With each not-guilty medal pinned to his shirt, you start building the guy up until he’s bigger than life. Until it justifies maybe failure, maybe revulsion, maybe more of those long hours. In the words of one defense attorney, Moore became “the John Gotti of Southeast.”
What the most aggressive prosecutors, detectives, and FBI agents still can’t admit is that they never really could figure Corey Moore out. He wasn’t the usual punk selling rock on a corner. Or the beanpole kid who simply liked telling the cops to fuck themselves whenever a cruiser drove by. He wasn’t a target of jump-outs. He wasn’t even a target at Ballou that night.
Moore was something else. He trafficked in a quiet sort of rage. He wasn’t a showoff; he didn’t even own a car.
By the time he was charged with Hammond’s murder, every detective knew his name, every beat cop had heard about his rep. But few had ever seen him. Those who did found him—well, respectful. According to officers who worked patrols in his district during the early ’90s, he never hassled them, never gave them lip, never got busted for disorderly conduct or drinking in public.
“Who the hell is Corey Moore?” asks Martin. “You’re not going to know him. Only way police officers know Corey is because they heard about Corey. You’re not going to know Corey. He’s not going to stand out in a crowd. He’s like a little kid.”
The same little kid who nearly beat his gun rap. The jury believed his story, of a jump-out gone bad, not the one about decent cops doing their job, getting lethal weapons off the streets. Moore would have been free except for the sawed-off piece in his sister’s hamper. That one had his print on its scope. But still, the jury didn’t buy the government’s essential case.
Imagine that same little kid stabbing an informant named Eugene Mills, in the D.C. Jail while he was awaiting his first trial for the Hammond case. On Jan. 28, 1995, Moore killed Mills during a fight over some missing T-shirts.
And think how frustrated you’d be if you were the prosecutor and you realized you had no case. The two inmates both had knives and had fought more than once that day. The only eyewitnesses were other inmates, who didn’t exactly exude credibility. Despite all this, and the fact that Moore was lucky enough to get Lanny Breuer, whose future clients would include President Bill Clinton, appointed as his defense attorney, prosecutors went ahead anyway.
Your blood would boil, too. It would reach Miami in August as you sat back and listened to Moore’s sworn testimony that he had killed Mills in self-defense. Specifically, Moore made the following statement: “I fear no man but God.”
You’d have a heart attack when an acquittal was reached.
“You got families, victims—you got this guy,” explains prosecutor Cynthia Wright, who worked the Mills case. “It’s like the bully on the block. Somebody’s got to confront him. You can’t be afraid to take this guy to trial.”
By the time the preliminary hearings in the first Hammond trial ended, Breuer’s firm, Covington & Burling, had sunk more than $1 million into defending Moore. The case also had the personal attention, according to sources, of then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder.
But it was the U.S. Attorney’s Office that was getting the evil eye from Judge Susan Winfield. On Sept. 9, 1996, the judge chastised prosecutors Michael Brittin and Margaret Flaherty for allegedly preventing a witness from speaking with Breuer’s defense team.
“I don’t know Corey Moore,” Winfield said. “I don’t know if he’s the worst killer this side of the Mississippi. I don’t know if every effort ought to be made to put him in jail forever and ever. I know what a fair trial looks like, and I’m going to make sure he gets one.”
The trial could have been like any other in the District. The facts were unremarkable. The witnesses were all attached to the drug trade. And the evidence seemed to finger the right man.
On the night of Oct. 27, 1994, Byron “Bones” Hammond felt pretty sweet. He cruised up to the Mart Liquors parking lot, the nexus of MLK and Malcolm X, happy as all hell. He informed his buddies—Shadid Williams and Reginald Jackson, among others—that he had just won big at a craps game off 2nd Street SE. Hammond, a tall skinny kid with a goofy Afro, went inside the liquor store and bought some Rémy; he was ready to party.
Jackson, a transplant from L.A. who had no rep except as a hanger-on, took the opportunity to ditch his buddies and join the Hammond party inside his gray 1975 Plymouth Grand Fury. They had Rémy, and they had pot. The plan was simple: cruise the strip, find a quiet spot, and get lit.
It was evening. It was like every other evening.
Eventually, the police would run Williams and the other hustlers out of the liquor store’s parking lot. They headed to the next usual spot, the Amoco station on Mellon Street.
Williams says he saw Hammond and Jackson getting gas. About the same time, Derek Miller pulled up in his Windstar and stopped him. What’s up?
“I’m like, ‘Nothing,’” Williams remembers saying. Miller then asked, “‘Why you out here?’” It was a silly question. Williams was always out there. He says Miller made him feel funny. Like something was up. “I felt vibes.”
Hammond and Jackson finished up their business at the Amoco and drove down Mellon Street. “I never saw Corey at all,” Williams says of that night. “When Corey’s name came up in the Byron case, it’s like, ‘Where the fuck you been at?’”
Prosecutors say Moore was in the back seat of that Plymouth.
After 30 minutes and a pee stop, at 10 p.m., Hammond, 19, was shot in the back of the head at 2nd and Newcomb Streets SE. Jackson, 22, was shot in the neck. Hammond died at the scene, slumped against the steering wheel. Jackson survived.
In the aftermath of the murder that night, the Pound flooded with one name connected to the shooting: Corey Moore. This time, a witness backed up the talk.
Jackson picked Moore out of a set of mug shots. He agreed to testify. It looked to be the break prosecutors had spent years looking for.
The first trial took place in Superior Court, in Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr.’s courtroom, in 1997.
The prosecutors had decent stuff—Moore’s fingerprints on the car window, Jackson’s testimony, and shell casings from the car that matched ammunition found in Moore’s girlfriend’s apartment, hidden above a ceiling tile. They also enlisted the testimony of inmates and drug dealers, all vouching that they had dirt on Moore. Most surprisingly, prosecutors had Moore’s best friend—Derek Miller. Miller had been arrested on substantial drug charges and arranged a plea agreement for his testimony. There was talk of developing a racketeering case against the two, but prosecutors decided that they didn’t have time to develop that type of intensive federal case.
If prosecutors could make any case against Moore, this one was it. Miller would provide the crucial details: Within three days after being released from the D.C. Jail, after a mistrial was declared in the Cortes armed-robbery case, Moore had planned a murder. He spent the afternoon of Oct. 27, 1994, with Miller, Warfield, and some women friends. Late in the day, the guys started cruising the neighborhood. After a stop at a liquor store, Miller drove his friends to the Amoco, where they had spotted Hammond. Tucked in Moore’s gray Nautica sweat suit was a .45 caliber pistol Miller had given him. Moore told Miller what he was going to do. He then got out of the car and approached Hammond. He wanted to party, too.
Miller would also testify that Moore came straight to his house after the murder, that his sweat suit was flecked with blood. He would say he had disposed of the evidence, dropping it along I-295. He would say that Moore had killed Hammond over the fact that Hammond had killed his childhood friend Dwayne Wallace months earlier.
Moore was concerned and focused. He fasted. He meditated. He read all the legal briefs and corresponding case law. His lawyers say he was high-maintenance. It would soon become obvious he didn’t need to be.
During the trial, the prosecution seemed worried. Three prosecution witnesses—Tyrique and Tyrone Payne and Shadid Williams—
all later said they had been approached before testifying by FBI agents with incentives to change their testimony. They all claimed not to have seen Moore that night, but the agents kept badgering them.
As they waited their turns at the witness stand, they all say, they were threatened with future arrests and even offered money on the spot. Williams remembers that one agent even offered to let him talk to Miller, waiting to testify in a downstairs room. “As if that might pressure me to change my testimony,” recalls Williams.
Prosecutors connected with the case deny these allegations.
Moore’s first attorney, Grimm, says the prosecution overplayed the case. “They created on their own this monster, and once they created it, they had to go after him, and they had to devote extraordinary time and effort and manpower for the problem they created for themselves,” he says. “If you say, ‘This guy’s a monster,’ you have to go after him.”
Some jurors couldn’t believe Jackson. Especially because at first he had lied to police about the incident—claiming that he had been shot while walking down the street. The jurors didn’t realize that this was what every unfortunate hustler tells the police.
The jurors also didn’t see Moore in that Plymouth. If he was in the car for so long, smoking weed and drinking Rémy, where was the physical evidence inside the car? There were no fingerprints, DNA, hair, fibers, or blood that matched Moore. He was invisible.
Yet the prosecutors continued to pile on paid informant after paid informant. Even at his own trial, Moore managed to vanish. He didn’t need to testify on his own behalf. Sitting in front of the jury taking notes was not a cold-blooded killer, but the boy next door. Couldn’t be him.
It must have been Miller who had murdered Hammond, Grimm argued. Moore was just the patsy framed by the genius drug dealer and a police force bent on revenge.
The jurors split 9 to 3, guilty. The next trial ended with the jurors split 8 to 3, with 1 undecided.
In the third trial, in October 1999, jurors voted 6 for guilty, 6 to acquit. Judge Nan Shuker, who presided over the third trial, released Moore, telling prosecutors they had little chance of ever convicting him. Still, they wanted to mount a record fourth trial.
“After each hung jury, there was a pretty serious discussion and assessment as to whether or not to retry the case,” says a prosecutor associated with the trials, who wishes to remain anonymous. “There was debate and decision-making up to the highest levels of the office.” The prosecutor adds that the case continued “because of the seriousness of the defendant.”
The fourth trial was even worse for the prosecutors.
By that trial, this past spring, repeating the alleged details of Hammond’s murder had become a job. Warfield got paid $41,000 in witness fees. Zachary Hood, an inmate informer, claims that he would call up the FBI from prison any time he needed money and be sent cash right away.
And then there was Miller. Used in three of the four trials (including the last), he was paid $12,000 in witness fees. He was also released from prison after four-and-a-half years awaiting sentencing. Police officials couldn’t have spent their money more unwisely. Nor could the defendant have picked a better alternate villain.
Miller, a 300-pound mass of a man, took the stand during one appearance dressed in faded jeans and a ratty T-shirt, his voice barely awake. What he said would be shocking for any jury. He admitted to having lied in court before, to having paid off a guy he had shot not to come to court, to having been involved in a double homicide and letting Moore’s friend Fowler take the rap. No matter how bad Moore allegedly was, Miller was willing to admit to being much worse.
Miller testified that he had told Grimm’s investigator a different story before the first trial—one that exonerated Moore. A story he now claims is false. “I was trying to help me and Corey, really,” Miller explained then on the witness stand.
Moore’s attorney, Nikki Lotze, raised doubt with every question. Like when she asked this one: “It wouldn’t be beyond you to commit perjury on your own behalf, would it?”
Miller responded: “I have before.”
Lotze was successful in turning the case around: It was about the drug kingpin, not her client. She called Fowler to the stand. He testified that Miller had confessed to the Hammond murder to him.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Glenn Kirschner made it a point to apologize for Miller. He stated that he wished Miller were behind bars.
“My biggest fear was that they would catch on and not call [Miller],” Lotze now says. “There goes my defense. I don’t think what they gained from him warranted all the hits they took from him. If you are apologizing for a witness in your closing, then why call him? He became a symbol, a symbol of what lengths the government would go.”
Lotze drove home the significance of that symbol in her closing. “Derek Miller believes he’s untouchable,” she bellowed, adding, “You know at least that you don’t have the whole story….You know Corey Moore had nothing to do with it.”
On March 20, the jury began deliberations. Two days later, the foreperson sent a note to Judge Russell Canan, writing: “Your honor after a length discusion we the Juror are at a Deadlock.” The split was 6 for not guilty, 2 for guilty, and 4 undecided.
After four days, the foreperson sent another note. The jury was still deadlocked.
On March 27, both sets of attorneys gave supplemental arguments in the hope that they would break the stalemate. That same afternoon, the jury sent another note saying the additional face time hadn’t helped.
The next day, one juror exclaimed the sentiments of all as she took the escalator back to deliberations on the third floor: “Oh, God, I don’t want to go back in this room!”
By 3:15 p.m., the foreperson declared the obvious in writing: “Your honor at this time we are still a ‘Hung Jury’!” A few minutes later, Canan declared a mistrial. The jury was split 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal.
According to several jurors, the lack of physical evidence—the lack of Corey Moore—proved to be the prosecution’s undoing. “[It] would have helped if there was one fingerprint on the cup….There was nothing that put him in the car,” explains one juror now.
On April 2, prosecutors decided to dismiss the case. Moore was released from his New York Avenue halfway house, his residence of a few weeks after failing to show up for court-ordered curfew checks.
First thing, Moore shaved his head. He then ate a victory meal of steamed vegetables in his baby’s mother’s apartment. He ate alone.
Sitting outside Superior Court in early June, Moore is hesitant to talk about the specifics of his case. He’d rather retreat to railing against the invisible forces of government conspiracy and police power. The only time he’s willing to get specific is when he talks about Miller, his former mentor and friend.
Although he claims there were other suspects in Hammond’s murder, he sticks with his defense that Miller was the real killer.
Moore says he was once utterly devoted to Miller. He was that hungry for knowledge and loyalty. “Anytime I gave myself to someone, I gave myself 100 percent. When I see the same is not given, it causes pain to certain degrees. I was naive. I was young. I was a child. I learned.” Of his friendship with Miller, he now feels the following: “Betrayal. Double-crossed. Bamboozled. Misled. Misguided. Misinformed.”
Moore doesn’t mention that he recently met up with his sworn enemy. A few weeks ago, Miller was making the rounds along MLK Avenue and Brothers Place. According to a source, he was just seeing old friends, nothing much—a little reunion for a kingpin-turned-Maryland-tow-truck-operator awaiting sentencing. Miller got word that Moore was in the neighborhood. He decided to go and see his former friend, the one he had testified against, the reason he had had to move out of the city.
When Moore saw him, says the source, he just smiled sweet-like. The two shook hands and then embraced.
“I love you,” Moore said. No hard feelings. “We had to go through all this stuff.”
Moore denies that such a meeting ever took place.
The only thing an invisible man leaves behind is a myth. To the detectives and patrol officers, Orange Hat citizens and inhabitants of the Pound, Moore’s myth began with the murders of Robert Butler and James Buchanan. They are the only open cases left on his résumé; solving them is the cops’ and prosecutors’ last hope of rendering Moore visible.
Those cases—involving the deaths of a young man known for defending old ladies and a 50-year-old witness—were the hardest to forget, to let go of. You don’t kill people in broad daylight. You don’t kill witnesses as they’re walking home. You don’t kill old men. You don’t get away with it.
Detectives will tell you that the Butler and Buchanan murders should have put Moore away for a very long time. “He’s just a nasty fuck,” says one detective, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Anytime you kill an old man, you’re just a nasty bastard. I don’t see how this whole whitewashing of [Moore] works on a jury. I guess you can’t fault the jury for it. They don’t see all the stuff on a day-to-day basis.”
A jury did get to hear about Moore’s alleged involvement in the murder of Butler—but that testimony occurred in Johnson’s trial.
Jackie V. Robinson noticed the windbreaker and the hooded sweat shirt first. The two teenagers, one he describes as about 6 feet, 170 pounds, the other at about 5-foot-7, 145 pounds, were hanging in the middle of an alley just off Orange Street. He noticed the jackets because he says it must have been 90 degrees outside, an unseasonably hot day for spring. As he sat in his truck with his kids, waiting for his wife, he kept an eye on those two teenagers.
Robinson testified that they went into Buchanan’s house. He then heard a gunshot. It was April 22, 1992, roughly 4:15 p.m. He watched them walk out of the house, search Butler’s car, take a freezer bag filled with what looked like crack, and then disappear down an alley. He would pick out Johnson in a lineup. But he couldn’t pick out Moore.
After the shooting, Johnson crashed at the house of a friend, Tanya Garner. Garner testified in Johnson’s trial that he had told her about the incident. “He said him and Corey was on Orange Street and they know that Chuck had some money hidden in his car, and he sent Corey down in the base—wherever Chuck was at, he sent Corey down there to ask him for $5 to see what he would say,” Garner stated.
Butler refused to give them the $5. Garner stated that Johnson had told her that Moore and Butler had gotten into an argument. Then “Chuck got shot.”
All this—along with Buchanan’s possible testimony—might have been enough to convict Moore. But Buchanan never took the witness stand.
A close friend of Moore’s, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, says Moore was involved in both the Butler and Buchanan murders. “We talked about it,” the source says. “He was just quiet about it. I was upset with what he did. He didn’t get shit. I don’t think he meant to kill [Butler]. Jamal just took the [blame]. Jamal didn’t say nothing.”
And about the eyewitness? Moore did that too, the source says. “I know. Because I know.”
Moore denies any involvement in the murders of Butler and Buchanan. Nine years later, a few months before Moore would be tried a fourth time in the Hammond murder case, prosecutor Kirschner made the three-hour drive to the Virginia state prison in Waverly to interview Johnson. He wanted information on those old murders. Johnson, who is serving a 20-to-life sentence, couldn’t have been less pleased by the visit.
The meeting lasted all of five minutes. No way Johnson was going to implicate Moore. No way.
Johnson, a skinny guy tall enough to have had some hoop dreams as a teenager, still maintains his innocence in the Butler case. And does the same for Moore. “Corey wasn’t there on the scene,” he says, adding that he knows, because he was hanging out on Orange Street that day. He goes on to paint the typical picture of Moore: the quiet bookworm who never hung out with the wrong people.
Johnson says Moore has called him within the past year and has sent him $50. He adds that his friend has also promised to take care of his mother. He knows that when he gets out, he will still have his friend by his side.
“When Corey gets himself together, I have a chance,” Johnson explains. “Corey was always my friend. I mean, a real friend. I know if I ask him for something, I know he’ll help me out. He feels my pain.”
It’s early in May, the first of many days Moore will sit in the pews of District Courtroom 21 to watch the Edelin trial. It is the most high-profile place to be if you are a famous former defendant.
Edelin gives Moore a quick smile from his defendant’s chair. Moore looks tense, stricken even. He takes in the proceedings at the edge of his seat, arms folded, serious.
After the last of the preliminary motions are cast, an attorney approaches Moore. He represents alleged killer and Edelin enforcer Bryan Bostick, a thick man with immaculately cut hair. The attorney carries a note from Bostick. Moore won’t let me read the note, scratched in sweeping cursive on white legal paper, but I know it begs Moore for guidance: You’re invisible. Can you make me invisible, too?
Moore has gotten such notes before. He agrees to help. “A lot of guys have written for advice,” he says. “It’s a need. Unfortunately, I have the experience.”
And it won’t be the last time his services will be solicited. During the two-and-a-half months I spend with Moore, the courtroom will gradually become more than just his vigil post. It will become his place to network. In a world where lawyers take all the credit and defendants are seen as incidental props, Moore is an unusual star.
Defense attorneys fawn over him. They solicit his legal opinions, and they have started offering him side jobs. One attorney gushes to me: “I love him!” They love him for what he’s not—a gangsta stereotype. And because of that, Moore is slowly gaining in them a new set of friends to whom to pledge his undying loyalty. Loyalty that takes him to Kinko’s to make copies, to his computer to retype motions. He follows investigators around like a frat pledge.
They don’t see an accused murderer—they see the ultimate survivor in an Oscar de la Renta trial suit. Moore fought the law, and he won. And now he’s an icon. “Corey knows that God was going to shine a light on him,” exclaims an investigator, who goes by the name Little Tobey. “You know what Corey always said: ‘Once you ask God to do something, forget about it—it’s already done.’”
And, in between court appearances, a lot of other people are asking Corey for things. Church visits. Anti-death-penalty speeches. Like when he spoke before a crowd outside District Court. “Only thing to be said and that’s—’Wake up!’” Moore admonished. “Because we all living in a world that’s an illusionistic world that’s not a world, that’s not reality. It shouldn’t have to take a long prison term for us to wake up.”
That rally’s sponsor, Al Malik Farrakhan, founder and CEO of Cease Fire Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters Inc., sees Moore blossoming as an activist. Sees him as a little boy, a vessel for all the black community’s worries, about everything from police brutality to the prison-industrial complex. All that in Corey. “He’s a real hero,” Farrakhan says. “Not too many men that can withstand that pressure.”
It helps that his new friends know little about him. That his allure is about a pretty face with potential. This his past is something most haven’t investigated deeply. That he’s largely still a big question mark.
“It’s what they say when puppies bite,” says 7th District Officer Stewart. “If they bite, they bite forever.”
That puppy recently hired a lawyer to ready a civil suit against the District’s Department of Corrections for placing him in jail immediately prior to his last trial. He also got a job transporting elderly people. He has a janitorial gig lined up, too.
Nearly bedtime. Moore’s son Kyree, 6, is in his room glued to the Cartoon Network. His father lies on the couch in the living room of his baby’s mother’s Suitland apartment after a long day working the courtrooms. He usually sleeps here with Kyree, his niece, and Kyree’s mom, Lakisha Greenfield.
Moore’s belly is filled with root drink and soy-chicken sandwiches. A look of contentment rests on his face. It’s been a long Friday night, this last week of May. The clouds outside have gone gray; they are ready to rain but somehow won’t.
After a half-hour of rest, Moore calls in his son. He doesn’t want him watching too many cartoons. Moore has a question for Kyree: “What are you going to tell the world about your daddy?”
Kyree stutters and stammers. His father has been invisible for all but two of his years. “Ah, that you don’t eat meat!” he screams, a big Happy Meal grin on his face. “That you love me?”
“What else?” Moore asks between fake jabs into his son’s belly. More hesitancy. More smiles. And finally an answer.
“That you don’t eat meat?” CP
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photographs by Darrow Montgomery.