The Jonathan Moore Case
Photo of IIP client John Grayson On August 24, 2000, two different shootings occurred in Aurora, Illinois. The first one happened at approximately 3:00 a.m. at 412 Flagg Street and the second one occurred around 5:45 a.m. in front the of Lincoln Laundromat at 15 South Lincoln. Two witnesses claimed to have seen a Hispanic male fire three times at the first shooting. Five spent shell casings were recovered from the scene. At the second shooting scene, witness accounts varied but five bullets were recovered from one of the victims’ bodies.
On August 25, 2000, police interviewed the surviving victim, LeRoy Starks, who identified Jonathan Moore from a photo-lineup as the person who shot him and Shaun Miller, the other victim. On August 26, Aurora Police brought in Jonathan Moore on an unrelated traffic stop and questioned him several times about the shooting at the laundromat. Ultimately he was charged, tried and convicted of murder and two counts of attempted murder following a jury trial in the circuit court of Kane County. He was sentenced to 60 years.
Convicted of both murder and attempted murder, Moore ’s case hinged on the testimony of two eyewitnesses claiming he was both at the scene of the crime and the gunman. Even with conflicting stories, the eyewitness’ testimonies won over the jury, and Grayson was convicted.
On January 1, 2011, another shooting occurred in Aurora that shed new light on Jonathan’s case. When officers responded to shots fired in the area of 227 Stuart Avenue in Aurora, they found Reinado Benito and Sergio Contreras in the backyard with guns. Both men were Hispanic and both guns were recovered. Ballistics later determined that the 9mm recovered was the same gun that was used to kill Shaun Miller in August of 2000. Other evidence discovered in the investigation of this new crime has links to Jonathan’s case as well.
In 2011, after receiving information from a new witness associated with Moore ’s case, the Aurora Police Department reopened their investigation. Teaming up with the Illinois Innocence Project and the Kane County State’s Attorney, the parties were able to interview witnesses, new and old, discovering evidence that discredited the two key witnesses against Moore and established his innocence. On March 6, 2012, Jonathan Moore walked out of the Kane County courthouse as a free man for the first time, completely exonerated of his wrongful conviction in 2002.