Bad Rap

Is Joshua Moore serving a 12-year sentence because of his taste in music?

For her part, Cynthia Moore, Joshua's mother, told the Weekly she would like to sue Dworakowski but can't because she was not his client—her son was.

"When we hired him, he told me he knew how to handle the case—that he was an ex-DA and was confident he could get Josh off," Cynthia Moore recalled.

In a two-page letter to the Weekly, Dworakowski defended his handling of the Moore case. "I firmly believe that the convictions were the result of the cumulative effect of the totality of the evidence against Mr. Moore," he said. These included "multiple, unequivocal eyewitness identifications, numerous photographs depicting the defendant posing with various weapons, and circumstantial evidence, including flight after the crime generating police pursuit," Dworakowski asserted.

Cynthia Moore also has harsh words for Deputy DA Pham. "All she used was innuendo and character assassination against my son," Cynthia said. "She had no evidence other than this woman [Kim]. I guess she figured out partway through the trial that my son was into writing music, and that's what she used against him.

"My son is in jail because he had black friends and listened to rap music," Cynthia asserted. "That's what put him in prison for 12 years. Now his major concern every morning when he wakes up in prison is whether he is going to make it through the day without getting his butt kicked."

Six weeks after Moore was convicted, the Orange County Probation Department wrote a separate report dealing with the question of whether he deserved probation instead of a long prison sentence. The agency failed to locate MikeAnn Kim but did manage to leave a message for Brandon Nakamura asking him to comment about Moore. Nakamura never returned the call.

The OC Probation Department interviewed Moore, then being held at the Orange County Jail. He told the agency he had no criminal record and "indicated that he is not a troublemaker and never has been."

As to the pictures found by police, Moore "said he and a friend had just graduated from high school and were playing around with a new camera. . . . The defendant reiterated that he has no prior record and had a 'strong alibi.'"

Moore pleaded with the Probation Department to give him a second chance. "They've made me out to be a gun-wielding maniac," he complained. "This is far from the truth. I've never shot a gun or had one in possession. If given a suspended sentence, I believe I'll be the ideal person who deserves probation. All I'd ask for is a chance to prove myself to the same system that has persecuted me."

The Probation Department's report describes the agency's efforts to reach the police officers involved in the case. "Letters were sent to the arresting and investigating officers requesting comments," the report says.

While they received no written response, probation officials heard by telephone from an "Officer Nash of the Orange Police Department." Nash, they report, "indicated that the defendant should be slammed 'big time.' He believes the defendant has gotten away with numerous robberies."

Nash failed to return the Weekly's calls for comment; through a District Attorney's office spokeswoman, Pham also refused to comment.

But the Probation Department heard back from Pham.

"The Deputy District Attorney acknowledged that the defendant has no prior criminal record and is relatively youthful," the report states. "She believes however that the defendant has 'demonstrated both sophistication and a dangerous propensity for violence in both robberies.'"

Pham noted "that the defendant's 'use of guns and his association with friends who use guns render him a danger to the community.'"

And then, probation officials noted, there was the matter of Joshua Moore's taste in music—or, as Pham herself reminded them, Moore's "testimony in court about liking guns and writing lyrics about crimes using guns."

The Probation Department agreed with Pham, concluding that Moore should go to prison.

"There further was a significant lapse in time between the first and second robbery," the report concluded. "The defendant had time to reflect on his actions in the first crime and decide to abandon them in pursuit of more positive pursuits. He chose not to. The defendant does not accept responsibility for the crimes."

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