LOCKPORT – When he and his girlfriend made plans to attend a wedding in Niagara Falls last fall, Richard H. Moore, of Winston-Salem, N.C., made sure to pack a gun.
“He had a strange idea of what New York is, a violent place,” Assistant Public Defender A. Joseph Catalano said. “He didn’t know anything about Lockport or Niagara Falls.”
Moore, 50, contributed to the violence in the Falls by gunning down his girlfriend’s best friend in the victim’s apartment Sept. 28.
Friday, Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III sentenced Moore to 17 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter in the death of Tijuana Davis, 39, of North Avenue.
Moore’s girlfriend, Cammesoa M. Williams, 43, of Winston-Salem, a Lockport native, was sentenced to five years’ probation, beginning with six months in the County Jail, for attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Prosecutors said Williams used Moore’s gun to fire a second shot at Davis but missed and hit the wall of the apartment.
The victim’s mother, Jacqueline Sinkler-Davis, told Moore, “I forgive you, mister. I forgive you from my heart, and it hurts.”
Murphy could have given Moore up to 25 years for his manslaughter plea but chose a shorter sentence in part because of a stack of letters attesting to Moore’s good deeds as a certified aide in a nursing home and a brain trauma center in North Carolina.
Moore and Williams were planning to stay in Davis’ apartment before the wedding, in which both women were to be part of the wedding party. But a fight broke out involving Williams, Davis and a third woman. Murphy told Williams, “Your cocaine use that night was the source of the tragedy.”
Moore said the other two women “were beating on Cammy … I ran towards the fight, but I couldn’t engage, so I ran and got the gun.”
It was in his car outside. He said he intended to shoot over their heads and scare the women.
“The other girl ran, but Tijuana ran toward me,” Moore said. Davis was shot once in the stomach.
“There were drugs and alcohol, a fight and a lot of poor choices,” Catalano said.
Moore and Williams drove from the scene, but Moore said they hadn’t gone more than half a block before his girlfriend got Moore to turn back to assist the dying Davis.
“Before I even put the car in park, Cammy jumped out and ran to help her,” Moore said. He exited the car, too. “I got three steps, and the officer said, ‘Freeze!’ I’m arrested,” Moore said.
“I don’t think you intended to kill her,” Murphy told Moore.
“If you had, there would have been a different result. I do believe your story as far as you tell it. You deserve to be punished. You did introduce a gun into a very volatile situation.”
Herbert L. Greenman, Williams’ attorney, said she and Davis were best friends. Greenman said Williams took the first plea Hoffmann offered.
Greenman quoted Williams as saying, “Whatever the judge will do, the judge will do, but Tijuana’s family has gone through enough.”
“If I could change things, I’d switch places with her,” Williams said.