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Tipton case lawyer seeks results of computer probe
Defense not taking no for an answer; motion based on FBI letter discussing murder victim’s use of Internet

By Sheryl Marsh
smarsh@decaturdaily.com · 340-2437

Morgan County Circuit Judge Steve Haddock denied a motion in which defense attorney Sherman Powell Jr. asked to see results from a forensic examination of Karen Tipton’s computer.

Powell amended the request and filed it again Friday. He said the motion is based on an FBI letter that recommended the examination of the murder victim’s computer hard drive.

The letter, dated Sept. 7, 1999, on FBI stationery states, “Victim was an avid user of the Internet and surfed the Web hours at a time. It is believed that possible unknown acquaintances, lovers or suitors may be revealed from a forensic exam of the above items used by the victim.”

The items stated were hard drive, disks and hard copies of directories on the victim’s computer.

Haddock granted a motion allowing Powell to hire two experts to assist with the defendant, Daniel Wade Moore’s defense.

He ruled that Powell could hire a DNA consultant at a rate of $250 per hour. The judge limited the total to $2,500. Also, Powell may hire a crime scene expert/consultant for $150 per hour and the total cannot exceed $4,000.

The motion was one of 48, most filed by Powell in the long-standing murder case. Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska filed the remainder.

Haddock made oral rulings on the motions, but he has not entered orders on the others, according to the circuit clerk’s office.

Authorities allege that Moore stabbed Tipton to death in her Chapel Hill Southwest home March 12, 1999. Police developed Moore as a suspect after he told an uncle that he was present in the home when one of his friends killed Tipton, 39.

Moore recanted the statement saying he fabricated it because he feared returning to jail. He had a crack cocaine addiction and had been in jail for theft.

A jury convicted Moore in November 2002 of capital murder and recommended life without parole. Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson sentenced him to death, but later overturned the conviction and sentence to grant Moore a new trial. In February 2005, he granted a defense motion and dropped the charges against Moore. Valeska appealed the ruling and Moore returned to jail after four days of freedom.

The state Court of Criminal Appeals backed Valeska and ordered Thompson to reinstate the charges. The court, however did agree that Moore should get a new trial.

On a petition from Valeska, the appellate court removed Thompson from the case citing “appearance of impropriety.”

Once the state Supreme Court upheld the ruling, Haddock moved into the case to preside over Moore’s second trial. Haddock has scheduled the trial for Feb. 11.

Moore, 33, remains in the county jail.

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