One month later: Hearing dates postponed and what we know about the alleged West Middle School shooter

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It has been one month since the May 25 shooting at Noblesville West Middle School shook the Noblesville community.

David J. Moore, 13, is being charged and tried in Hamilton County Juvenile Court as the alleged shooter.

Current in Noblesville does not name juveniles involved in criminal investigations, but due to the severity of the alleged crimes, the frequent community discussion and the naming of the juvenile in public court documents, an exception has been made.

Moore was a seventh-grader at NWMS and lived with his family in the North Harbour neighborhood at the time of the shooting.

Police said the shooter opened fire in the classroom after asking to be excused and returned with two handguns, a .22 and .45 caliber. Only the .22 was used.

Ella Whistler, 13, a seventh-grader at NWMS at the time of the shooting, was the first person shot. Her family said she was shot seven times in the face, neck, hand and upper chest. She remains at Riley Hospital. Jason Seaman, 29, who has taught with the district approximately four years, is being credited for saving the lives of many after he tackled the shooter. Seaman was shot three times – once in the forearm, once in the hip and once in the abdomen. He underwent emergency surgery and was released from the hospital the following day. He returned to the school the same day he was released to greet students and staff.

Moore has been held in the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center since the shooting. A private juvenile detention hearing was held May 29, followed by the June 5 filing of a juvenile delinquency petition by Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham, which publicly identified Moore as the suspect and announced charges against him: two counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of battery by means of a deadly weapon, two counts of possession of a firearm on school property, two counts of dangerous possession of a firearm and one count of possession of a knife on school property.

Two days after the petition filing, Moore and his parents, Kevin and Sarah Moore, received summons from the Hamilton County Circuit Court for the initial hearing on June 11, where Moore made his first public appearance before Judge Todd Ruetz.

Moore is being represented by Ben Jaffe, a criminal defense trial attorney with Eskew Law, LLC, based in Indianapolis. He is not being waived to adult court because of his age and because he is not facing a murder charge. Juveniles must be 14 to be waived to adult court for an attempted murder charge.

Max Wiley, a criminal defense lawyer with Baldwin Kyle & Kamish in downtown Noblesville and a former major felony lawyer for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, spoke with Current about what Moore’s sentencing could look like if he is found guilty.

Wiley said juvenile facilities in Indiana are very different than adult prisons. Focused primarily on rehabilitation, juvenile offenders live in more of a group setting than traditional jail cells and attend classes for school.

Wiley said he could age out of the detention center when he turns 18, or he could be released prior to turning 18, as cases are reviewed frequently.

“He (would be) under the control of (the Dept. of Correction), and they determine how long he will be in,” Wiley said. “Once he goes through programing, and DOC feels he’s ready to be released, the DOC will send a 40-day letter to the court notifying the court of his upcoming release, and that gives the county court the ability to take back jurisdiction and put him on probation. In my experience, even some kids charged with serious crimes can get out in about a year to a year-and-a-half. I would be surprised if he were to serve more than two or three years, even though this was a terrible crime. They could technically keep him until he’s 21, but (that is) not typical.”

Wiley said other types of sentencing could include home detention or probation, but another option would be a juvenile facility that’s less strict.

“He could be (sent) to a juvenile facility that’s not as restrictive as the DOC, where he could receive programming, and the county would maintain jurisdiction,” Wiley said. “I would not expect that in this situation, due to the nature of the crime.”

Wiley said in some circumstances, parents of the juvenile offender can be brought up on charges as well.

“Criminal charges can be filed if they were found to have been reckless in allowing him access to the firearm,” Wiley said. “Beyond that, they can’t really be punished or sanctioned, but it could parallel into a situation where the child is deemed to be in need of services. The parents are a party in any juvenile case. Certainly, parental involvement is going to be necessary. If the parents aren’t participating in the juvenile justice system, the child could be (considered) neglected, which could affect their parenting rights.”

Moore’s parents have attending each of Moore’s hearings alongside him.

The June 11 hearing originally set the fact-finding hearing dates for June 25 and 26 and a trial date of July 3. However, Moore and his attorneys filed a motion for a continuance June 18. The court accepted the motion and ordered the fact-finding hearing to be continued.

The court order states, “Upon consultation with counsel of record and the court calendar, the court will reschedule the fact-finding hearing.”

“The fact-finding hearing is essentially a trial, but it’s a bench trial because you don’t have a right to a jury trial with a juvenile, but the state still has to and give evidence to and prove the crimes he has been accused of,” Wiley said.


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