A federal judge wants to know, and know soon, if Erie County’s district attorney is going to charge Ronald Epps with the murder of his fiancee.
Epps has been indicted by a federal grand jury that accused him of killing Angela Moss in 2009 as part of a scheme to collect on her life insurance policy.
U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. is overseeing the insurance fraud case against Epps but wants to know if the Amherst man will face state murder charges before moving forward on the fraud case.
“I’m not going to hold this court hostage,” Schroeder said of the district attorney Thursday.
The question of whether Epps, who was engaged to and living with Moss, will face a murder charge was first raised last week when federal prosecutors announced a seven-count indictment against him.
The indictment accuses Epps of shooting Moss in the back of the head on the night of Aug. 28, 2009, and leaving her along California Road, near the Orchard Park nursing home where she worked.
At the time of the indictment, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said he had talked with the District Attorney’s Office about the case and the potential for murder charges against Epps.
Hochul also indicated that there was no federal murder charge that would apply in the case.
District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said he could not comment on any possible investigations into Epps but said his office’s policy is to pursue charges against someone if and when it receives evidence of a crime.
“When the District Attorney’s Office is provided sufficient evidence, we present that evidence to a grand jury,” Sedita said Thursday.
Epps, 44, was arraigned on the federal fraud charges Thursday and entered a plea of not guilty.
Epps did not challenge the prosecution’s efforts to keep him locked up. He’s currently in state custody because of a prior conviction.
When the federal indictment against Epps was announced last week, law enforcement officials said they hoped it would end one of the region’s most- high-profile cold cases and give the Moss family some closure.
Moss’ family was in the courtroom Thursday but declined to comment, except to say that they are “still waiting” to hear about possible murder charges against Epps.
The grand jury indictment against Epps claims the fraud began when Moss made him the primary beneficiary of her $100,000 life insurance policy, which he tried to collect on just days after she was murdered.