LISBON — Two years to the day that Destiny Moody was fatally shot in her Wellsville home, relatives in the courtroom of Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam got to hear that Terrance Haywood was found guilty of the murder.
Jurors took about two and a half hours to reach three guilty verdicts, finding Haywood, 28, guilty of murder, tampering with evidence and having weapons while under a disability. At some point, prosecutors chose not to pursue the aggravated burglary charge from the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2019.
Haywood faces a sentence of 15 years to life for the murder charge alone. Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 3, when family will be able to provide a statement if they choose.
Family members, many of whom sat through the week-long trial or testified at some point during it, wiped away tears upon hearing the verdict and shared hugs as the jury left the room.
With testimony wrapping up mid-morning, the jury had heard closing arguments from both sides prior to their lunch break. They began deliberating at about 1:25 p.m. and concluded at around 4 p.m.
Micah Ault, one of two special prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General Office, had pointed out to jurors that in the time leading up to her murder, Haywood had choked her with a cord, punched her in the face and repeatedly threatened to kill her. She told friends if she were ever to die, Haywood was responsible.
Still on Oct. 20, Ault said Moody got up the courage to tell him repeatedly it was over. Less than two days later she was dead.
Ault also went over the evidence linking the murder to Haywood one more time for the jury — a holster with his DNA on it found next to the body and a shoe print matching Haywood’s shoe that had kicked in the front door.
Although kicking in the front door came after the murder, Ault explained it was all part of the cover up, one he said Citasia Tisdale helped Haywood to do. Ault pointed to the numerous communications they knew about and the deleted messages between them as they went about trying to cover up the shooting death.
However, Ault said many of Haywood’s girlfriends put him at Moody’s that night and that he was fighting with Moody, even if you could not be certain of who you saw in the far away surveillance videos.Haywood’s facebook activity lines up perfectly with the timeline created of his activities by Lt. Marsha Eisenhart.
Ault suggested after the murder, the five calls made from Moody’s phone to Haywood’s were done by Haywood himself to make it look like she was still alive at that time.
While Ault and his co-counsel, Christian Stickan, both said the testimony of Moody’s 6-year-old son, JaVonte remained consistent with his prior statements at the Child Advocacy Center “Daddy shot my mommy,” defense attorney Dennis McNamara disagreed.
Although McNamara admitted JaVonte is “about the cutest 6-year-old I’ve ever seen,” he reminded jurors that there were inconsistencies in the boys two statements and testimony in court. Those included “daddy stabbed mommy with a chainsaw,” as well as whether they went to the candy store, that his dad hid in a closet, where he was playing Xbox and the timeline after the shooting.
McNamara suggested that while JaVonte would not intentionally lie, his testimony may be based completely on what he heard other people say happened and absorbed “like a sponge” into his own memories.
McNamara also challenged the evidence collected by investigators, stating the investigators came up with a theory, a conclusion and then searched only for the evidence that backed up that conclusion. For instance, McNamara said he filed a notice of alibi stating Haywood was in Newell, W.Va., at the time of the murder, but authorities never went there to interview people or check out all the video surveillance in that neighborhood to see him there instead of in Wellsville the night of the murder.
Additionally, McNamara pointed out Haywood’s fingerprints were not found in the Chevy Acadia police had showed jurors out driving around Wellsville the night of the murder and there could be a million dark Acadia’s in Ohio.
The neighbor who gave the tip about voices in the alley did not come forward to testify so he could be questioned.
Then McNamara talked about the other women in Haywood’s life who provide a timeline and in some cases testimony about acts of violence, but at least three of them testified he would have never killed Moody. McNamara said those women know Haywood’s heart, character and bad mouth better than anyone, but none of them believed he was capable of murder.
Instead two of them testified they saw Haywood get sad and emotional after learning Moody died.
Stickan would later counter one of those women is obviously in love with Haywood and another has a past relationship with him.
McNamara also challenged the testimony of Tisdale that Haywood asked her to get his gun for him and she refused, noting if the gun had already been thrown on a roof outside why would he ask her that the next day.
McNamara brought out a Nike tennis shoe he claimed was his own and held it up to the photo of the footprint on the door, noting that it also matched the tread pattern and so would a lot of Nike shoes.
McNamara also asked why Julius Holland, one of the two men identified as running around with Haywood the night of the murder, was never called in to testify. He asked who has been using Destiny Moody’s phone after her death and why only a few of Haywood’s 6,000 pages of Facebook records were found to be relevant. He questioned why investigators ignored all the times Haywood was messaging Moody in a nice manner.
“You can’t have a conviction based on suspicion or speculation or law enforcement’s theory where everything consistent with it is called evidence and everything inconsistent with it is called irrelevant,” McNamara said.
As he closed out the arguments, Stickan said there is so much of the evidence that points toward Haywood and asked the jurors to find him guilty of the three charges.
“If the evidence appears it is stacked up against the defendant, it is,” Stickan said. “It is and you can’t ignore that.”