UGLY: Teen gets life for shooting young mother in front of her kids
By Michelle Washington
© December 14, 2007
Mike Weiss looked at one of the teenaged boys who shot and paralyzed his wife and then made a request of the judge. “All I ask is the same mercy they showed my wife and kids,” Weiss said. “The same mercy. Which is none.”
Weiss testified Thursday during the sentencing hearing of Keyanta Moore, one of four youths charged with shooting Dawn Weiss on May 2 during a home invasion robbery in the 8100 block of Redmon Road.
The robbers shot Weiss five times in front of her daughters, Kayla and Destyni, now 10 and 6. They were unharmed. The bullets fractured two of Weiss’ vertebrae and damaged her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.
Circuit Judge Karen J. Burrell sentenced Moore to life in prison plus 173 years for the shooting and robbery of Dawn Weiss and for another home invasion a block away the day before. The guns used to shoot Weiss were stolen during the May 1 robbery, according to prosecutor Jim Entas. Moore and his cousin, Michael Moore Jr., shot Weiss.
The sentence far exceeded guidelines that suggested a term of 23 to 31 years. Moore was 15 at the time of the shooting; he is now 16.
Mike Weiss, a sergeant first class in the Army, was in Kuwait when it happened. When word reached him, he was told his wife was not expected to live.
Both Mike and Dawn Weiss testified about how the shooting has changed their lives.
“We’re no longer just husband and wife and daughters,” he said. “We’re her caretakers.”
In some ways, he said, she is like a newborn.
“She can’t do anything by herself,” he said. “She can’t get her own food. She can’t go to the bathroom. Just to roll over in bed she has to wake me up and I have to do that for her.”
Nerve damage makes her feel as though she has been doused with gasoline and set afire, he said. While the Army’s health insurance pays for many of their costs, they have spent thousands of dollars on the medicines she needs, her wheelchair and therapy.
They live in fear that a simple cold could lead to pneumonia, because her diaphragm is paralyzed and she cannot cough. Dawn Weiss testified Thursday that she had been strong and independent before the shooting.
Now she fears that she won’t be able to protect her daughters. She thinks about the shooting every day, she said, and asks why.
The shooting happened in a car as Weiss and the girls tried to escape. When Weiss was shot, she slumped over in the front seat. Her daughters honked the car horn to get help. Trey Cooper lived nearby. At first, he said, he thought a rainstorm had caused a fender bender. When the horn continued to sound, he went outside and found Weiss.
Dawn’s blood soaked through the towel he had used to staunch the flow from the bullet wounds at her neck, Cooper testified, so he used his shirt.
“She was giving me her good-byes to say to people,” Cooper said.
He thinks about seeing the girls, one clutching a teddy bear, both covered in their mother’s blood.
“I’ll never forget what a heinous scene it was,” Cooper said, “how callous it was. She was left to bleed out in the pouring rain with her children.”
One of Moore’s lawyers, Henry Sadler, told Burrell that his client’s youth affected his ability to make decisions. “He’s a child,” Sadler said, “he’s still a child in many ways.”
Before Burrell pronounced her sentence, Moore turned to face Dawn and Mike Weiss, who held hands in the front row of the courtroom.
“I’d like to say I’m sorry to Ms. Weiss and her family,” Moore said. “I didn’t mean for you to get shot. It wasn’t all on me. But at the same time I accept full responsibility for what I done.”
Two others charged in the crimes, Michael Moore Jr., 18, and Vicktor Stine-Cunningham, 18, are scheduled to be sentenced today. The fourth, Randell Barkley Jr., 16, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Michelle Washington, (757) 446-2287, michelle. email@example.com