(Atlanta) Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker offers the following information on the execution of Larry Eugene Moon, who was executed at 7:23pm on March 25, 2003.
On March 5, 2003, the Superior Court of Catoosa County filed an order, setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Larry Eugene Moon could occur to begin at noon, March 25, 2003, and end seven days later at noon on April 1, 2003. The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections set the specific date and time for the execution as 7:00pm, March 25, 2003, pursuant to the discretion given the Commissioner under state law. Larry Eugene Moon had previously concluded his direct appeal, as well as state and federal habeas corpus proceedings. The lawfully ordered execution of Larry Eugene Moon was carried out by means of lethal injection at 7:23pm on March 25, 2003.
The Supreme Court of Georgia summarized the facts of the case as follows: Larry Moon left his motel room late in the evening of November 24, 1984, for the announced purpose of making a telephone call. He returned later, driving the victim’s car. He removed approximately $60 from the victim’s wallet, and discarded the wallet. Moon and his companion then drove to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she left him.
On November 26, 1984, a 1980 Buick Riviera was stolen from the parking lot of a shopping mall in Decatur, Alabama. The Callahan car was discovered abandoned three miles west of Decatur, Alabama, on November 28, 1984.
On December 14, 1984, a 1982 Buick LeSabre was stolen from a parking lot in Oneida, Tennessee. The local police knew the owner and the car, and it was soon spotted in Oneida. After a high-speed chase through the surrounding countryside, the police apprehended the car and its driver, Larry Moon. A number of guns were recovered from the interior of the stolen automobile, including one later identified as the murder weapon in this case.
Soon after Moon’s capture, the police recovered from another parking lot in Oneida the 1980 Buick Riviera that had been stolen in Decatur, Alabama. The keys to this car were found on Moon when he was arrested. Inside this car were cassette tapes that had been inside Callahan’s Ford LTD before it was stolen.
At the sentencing phase of trial, the State offered additional evidence about Moon’s activities before and after Ricky Callahan was murdered.
On November 15, 1984, Moon shot and killed Jimmy Hutcheson at Brown’s Tavern in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He left Chattanooga and went to Catoosa County, Georgia, where the Callahan homicide occurred on November 24, 1984. He returned to Chattanooga and at 3:00 a.m. on December 1, 1984, he robbed at gunpoint Peeper’s Adult Bookstore in Chattanooga. While there, he kidnapped Terry Lee Elkins (who was a female impersonator). Moon drove back to Georgia on Interstate 75, left the interstate and drove fifteen miles into the country, stopped the car, and sodomized his captive by the side of the road, threatening to kill him if he refused to submit.
Moon returned his captive to Chattanooga, and drove to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Shortly after midnight on December 2, 1984, Moon (still driving the Buick Riviera he had stolen in Alabama) offered a ride to Darryl Ehrlanger and her fiance Thomas DeJosa. She worked in a restaurant in Gatlinburg and had just got off work. Moon took them almost to their home outside of Gatlinburg, stopped the car, and tried to drag Ehrlanger out of the car. When DeJosa attempted to rescue her, Moon shot him. DeJosa ordered her to run into the woods. When she did, Moon fired several shots at her. He then shot DeJosa three more times and left. By the time Ehrlanger reached DeJosa, he was dead.
On December 7, 1984, Moon was back in Chattanooga, where he robbed at gunpoint a convenience store owned by Ray York, taking over $900 from the store as well as the owner’s billfold and his .357 magnum pistol. The pistol was recovered from inside the car Moon was driving when he was arrested. Moon v. State, 258 Ga. 748 (1988).
The Catoosa County Grand Jury indicted Moon for murder and armed robbery. Moon was tried January 11-21, 1988, and found guilty as charged on both counts by a jury in the Superior Court of Catoosa County, Georgia on January 18, 1988. On January 22, 1988, Moon was sentenced to death for the murder and received 20 years consecutive for armed robbery.
The Direct Appeal
The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed Moon’s convictions and sentences in Moon v. State, 258 Ga. 748 (1988).
State Habeas Corpus Petition
Moon, represented by Charles W. Surasky, Robert N. Godfrey, Frederick L. Wright, and Fredric W. Stearns, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia, on January 21, 1992. On August 3, 1993, the Superior Court of Butts County issued a writ of habeas corpus and directed that Moon be retried. The State appealed and Moon cross-appealed on issues included in the habeas petition but not decided by the habeas court. On February 28, 1994, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the granting of habeas relief of the three issues on which relief was granted and remanded to the Superior Court of Butts County to consider remaining issues contained in the original habeas petition and included in the cross-appeal of Moon. Zant v. Moon, 264 Ga. 93 (1994). The Superior Court of Butts County, after consideration of the remaining issues on remand, denied habeas relief on April 4, 1995.
Moon filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court from the reversal of relief from the Supreme Court of Georgia. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on October 31, 1994 and denied the petition for rehearing on January 9, 1995. Moon subsequently filed an Application for Certificate of Probable Cause in the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Supreme Court denied this application on June 23, 1995. Thereafter, Moon filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari on May 13, 1996.
Federal Habeas Corpus Petition
Moon filed petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Rome Division, on April 22, 1996. The federal district court, after an evidentiary hearing on February 23, 1999, denied relief on August 2, 1999 and denied a motion to alter or amend judgment on October 6, 1999. On or about November 4, 1999, Moon filed an application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal. On January 27, 2000, the United States District Court granted a Certificate of Appealability on Grounds 1, 5, 9, and 17 of Moon’s habeas corpus petition.
Appeal to the Eleventh Circuit
On or around February 10, 2000, Moon filed an unopposed motion to convert Certificate of Appealabililty into Certificate of Probable Cause and to expand issues on appeal. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit granted this motion on February 23, 2000. Oral Argument was held on February 28, 2001. On its own initiative, the Court converted Moon’s Certificate of Probable Cause into a Certificate of Appealability and specified seven issues for appeal by order of March 18, 2002. The Court also denied relief in a separate order of March 18, 2002. Moon v. Head, 285 F.3d 1301, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 4302 (11th Cir. 2002). Moon’s petition for rehearing and petition for rehearing en banc were denied by order on May 9, 2002. Moon filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on October 4, 2002. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on January 13, 2003. Moon filed a petition for rehearing and the United States Supreme Court denied petition for rehearing on March 3, 2003.