A U.S. Army veteran was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in prison for shooting and killing a man during a daylight confrontation at an Anaheim park.
Despite pleas for mercy from family members who recounted Adam Stone’s struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his military service, Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson opted to sentence Stone to the maximum prison term for first-degree murder with the use of a firearm.
The judge acknowledged that Stone, now 31, had enlisted in the Army during a time of war and served two tours in Iraq, but noted that Stone’s killing of 29-year-old Alexander Raymond McMoore was not the result of his military service or PTSD diagnosis.
On Jan. 7, 2015, Stone got out of a red BMW after it pulled into the parking lot of Twila Reid Park, walked up to McMoore, who was sitting by a wall facing a basketball court, and without a word fired two shots from a .38 revolver.
Stone then walked back to the BMW, telling his shocked friend, who was driving the vehicle, that he “took care of it,” saying McMoore had “punked him” by trying to rip him off, according to testimony.
During the trial, Stone’s attorney said McMoore had forced Stone to give him marijuana during two previous encounters at the park. Stone claimed self-defense, saying that at the time of the shooting he believed McMoore, who was not armed, had been reaching for a weapon.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, several of Stone’s relatives offered their condolences to McMoore’s family. They said Stone lost his way during his Army service, when he rode on gun trucks protecting vehicle caravans through some of the most dangerous parts of Iraq.
“There are no winners, we have all lost something in this horrible tragedy,” Christine Hess, Stone’s mother, told the judge. “Adam is not a criminal; he made a life-altering decision. He has a lot to offer and keeping him locked up the rest of his life would be a tragedy.”
Several members of McMoore’s family, citing their religious beliefs, said they have forgiven Stone. But while the family members said they hope he receives help while in custody, they still believed that he needed to be held accountable.
“Being a veteran, (having) PTSD doesn’t give you permission to go around shooting people,” said Raymond McMoore, Alexander McMoore’s father, who told the judge that he was an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam.
A McMoore aunt, Tulima Sagapolu, disputed the characterization by Stone’s attorney during the trial when saying McMoore was a transient known to have a violent temper and a habit of starting fights. Sagapolu instead described McMoore as an artist who loved music and to draw.
“Alex wasn’t perfect, but what he wasn’t was a threat,” Sagapolu said. “He wasn’t a violent person. He wasn’t a thug.”
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In handing down her sentence, Judge Hansen said she was struck by how Stone left the park to get a weapon before returning to shoot McMoore, and how he lied to police after being arrested.
© 2018 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
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