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Stories vary in Braselton murder

 

 

LAWRENCEVILLE — The 15-year-old Braselton girl accused of killing her mother sat motionless for the entirety of an hourlong hearing Friday afternoon, as authorities recounted the events surrounding the alleged murder.

Police discovered the body of Athens-based Army recruiter 1st Sgt. Karen Moore in her Sahale Falls Drive home on the afternoon of April 7, shot in the back of the head with a 9mm handgun.

It was later determined that Moore died the previous night.

Judge George Hutchinson bound murder charges against her daughter over to Gwinnett County Superior Court after hearing testimony from Braselton Assistant Police Chief Lou Solis on Friday, as the defendant’s father — and Moore’s widower — sat through it all, bedecked in full military uniform with hands tightly clinched in front of him.

According to Solis’ testimony, Moore’s daughter (who the Daily Post is not naming because the District Attorney’s office has not yet decided whether to charge her as a juvenile or adult) confessed to the shooting, but told authorities several different versions of what happened the night before they were called to the scene.

The first story Solis and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Sarah Thomas allegedly heard was that Moore had been teaching her daughter how to shoot the handgun while sitting on the couch in front of her.

The safety erroneously believed to be on, a shot was fired and Moore was struck in the back of the head, her daughter said.

The 15-year-old’s story then changed, as she told Solis that she and her mother had been having “ongoing” arguments about school and her boyfriend, 17-year-old Christopher Nieves. According to that version, “she snapped,” shot her mother in the back of the head and ran out the door to pick up Nieves.

In her third version, the defendant purportedly said there was “no motivation” behind killing her mother, other than doing so when she did because she had to pick up Nieves at 10:30 p.m. “or he would break up with her.”

Initial observations led police to believe the death may have been a suicide, Solis said, before the coroner arrived and determined the gunshot wound in the back of Moore’s head was an entry wound, not an exit wound.

The part of the story that was the same each time, and corroborated by Nieves, was what officials were told happened in the 15 or so hours between Moore’s death and their arrival on scene.

According to testimony, the suspect picked up Nieves at his home before “getting lost” on the way back and arriving back at the Sahale Falls Drive home at about 2 a.m.

After that, the young couple reported having watched TV and had sex before going to sleep. Waking up at about 10 a.m. the next morning, the duo reportedly tried to jump start Moore’s Volkswagen before giving up and walking to a nearby pizza place.

Moore’s daughter did not eat “because she felt sick,” Solis said.

After trying to jump the car again, the defendant and Nieves called a neighbor to help. When the neighbor gave up, Moore’s daughter reportedly brought her back to the scene asking for help because “her mother would not wake up and there was blood on the floor,” Solis said.

Braselton police arrived on the scene at about 1:15 p.m.

The alleged murder weapon was soon found in the side panel of the Volkswagen’s driver’s side door. A matching shell was discovered near Moore’s body, police said.

Nieves has been arrested and charged with having sex with a minor.

The case was originally thought to be under the jurisdiction of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit, which covers Barrow, Jackson and Banks counties. Later investigation found the home near the intersection of Ga. Highway 211 and Thompson Mill Road fell just inside Gwinnett County line.

The GBI is working the case in cooperation with Braselton police.