OH v. MOORE: Staged Suicide Murder Trial

Posted at 9:44 AM, August 11, 2022 and last updated 5:14 PM, August 26, 2022

DELAWARE, Ohio (Court TV) — An Ohio man accused of murdering his wife and staging the scene to look like a suicide has been found not guilty.

A jury acquitted Matheau Moore of one count of felony murder, one count of purposeful murder and one count of felonious assault in the May 2020 death of his wife, Emily Noble.

 

The severely decomposed remains of Emily Noble, 52, were discovered hanging from a tree in Sept. 2020, nearly four months after she was last seen alive. Her husband, defendant Matheau Moore, was arrested in June 2021.

Prosecutors argued Moore killed his wife sometime between May 24 and May 25, 2020. He reported Noble missing May 25. He told police he was asleep when Noble left the home without her car, keys, wallet or cellphone.

In the following months, he posted fliers and pleaded with producers at “The Vanished Podcast” to highlight his wife’s missing person’s case.

Noble’s remains were found less than half a mile from a home she owned in Westerville. A USB cord was around her neck, according to an autopsy report, which listed the cause of death as multiple injuries to her head and neck.

Moore pleaded not guilty to one count of felony murder, one count of purposeful murder and one count of felonious assault.

DAILY TRIAL HIGHLIGHTS

DAY 8 – 8/26/22

DAY 7 – 8/25/22

  • Thursday morning started with a fiery exchange between one of the prosecutors and the judge.
    • Judge Wolaver was issuing his ruling regarding the defense’s motion to dismiss. Prosecutor Mark Sleeper objected to the judge starting proceedings without the elected prosecutor. He stated that the court knew that Melissa Schiffel had an early meeting and that it was a “sham” to start proceedings without her. He then walked out of the courtroom after the judge asked him to sit down.
    • The prosecution team walked into court just in time to hear Judge Wolaver’s ruling. Ultimately, the judge denied the defense’s motion.
    • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: Judge Issues Ruling On Motion to Dismiss
  • The defense called their final witness – Dr. John Bolte, who specializes in biomechanical engineering. Bolte tested whether the tree branch from which Emily Noble was suspended could withstand a hanging. There were five tests conducted – two static and three dynamic. A crash dummy simulating Noble’s weight and a USB cord was used. All tests determined that the branch did not fail. There was slippage of the USB cord in one of the tests, but the cord did not give free.
  • In closings, prosecutors made clear that Matheau Moore and only Moore killed his wife, and Emily did not kill herself. For the first time since the trial started, they revealed that they believed that Moore followed Emily during her walk and killed her in the wooded area not far from their condo. After Emily and Matt returned home on the evening of her birthday, Jurors were told that Moore took a 30-minute phone call. Sometime after 9 pm, there was a three-hour window in which they believe Moore murdered his wife and began staging the crime scene. There was a huge action from Moore during this portion of closings. He seemed agitated and began throwing up his arms after hearing the state’s theory.
    • When police arrived at the condo, Moore’s behavior was suspicious. The emphasis on the couple lived in an 800-square-foot condo, and Moore never got up and tried looking for Noble. Instead, he texted her and used a cell phone locator app to attempt to communicate with her. Moore allegedly staged the garage as police were there by moving an orange extension cord and a cooler. Prosecutors say that Moore “messed up” when he left a flashlight next to both items. It was implied that the flashlight was used to help illuminate the location where Noble’s remains were found to continue staging the crime scene the night of May 24.
    • Focus on Moore’s police interview was also highlighted. Prosecutor argued that Moore knew Noble was dead because he referred to her in the past tense – “I loved Emily.” Also, it was pointed out that there were inconsistencies in the timeline of events.
    • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: Prosecution Delivers Closing Argument
    • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: State Delivers Rebuttal Case
  • Defense counsel pointed to Moore’s reaction in the body camera video. Moore thought Emily returned home after the police arrived. It turns out it was her friend Celeste who walked up the driveway. Again, after learning from Officer Hollis that their neighbor John Kramer saw Emily going for a walk between 9 am and 10 am on May 25.
    • Moore immediately turned over evidence that could help the case – the defense said that Emily’s cell phones, laptops, and personal items, including her hairbrush and shower cap.
    • The defense argued that Moore did not kill his wife and was not the “mastermind” behind her death. Moore’s attorney says there is no direct evidence linking her client to the crime, and prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proof.
    • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: Defense Delivers Closing Argument

DAY 6 – 8/24/22

  • Prosecutors rest their case-in-chief Wednesday after calling their final two witnesses – Coroners from Delaware and Montgomery Counties.
  • Delaware County Coroner Dr. Mark Hickman requested the remains of Emily Noble to be transported to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office for autopsy and testing on September 16, 2020. Hickman, a family practice doctor for the county, is the only licensed medical professional in the office. However, he is not a licensed pathologist. Delaware County contracts out its autopsy to Montgomery County in Dayton, Ohio, about one hour west.
  • Noble’s remains arrived at the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office on September 17, 2020, at 2:08 am, where the deputy coroner conducted an immediate evaluation. Photographs and x-rays were taken to document the body’s condition and any evidence. Noble was wearing black Old Nay leggings, a black spaghetti strapped tank top, a white Old Navy long-sleeved shirt, and sneakers still on her feet. An x-ray revealed an e-cigarette in the leggings pocket. Emily’s white shirt had fallen around her waist and arms as her body deteriorated over four months.
  • Dr. Anna Castglione Richmond, under the supervision of Chief Deputy Coroner Lee Lehman, determined the remains should undergo further analysis at the Ohio State University. They would finalize their report after OSU’s report was complete. The remains were transported on October 2,  2020.
  • Dr. Amanda Agnew, who conducted the anthropology forensic evaluation at OSU, completed her report on January 11, 2021. The report was sent to Montgomery County, where they determined on January 21, 2021, and based on Agnew’s report, that the cause of death was a result of multiple injuries to the face and neck.
  • Montgomery County’s opinion and report were then sent to Delaware County to determine the cause of death. On September 16, 2021, exactly one year that Noble’s body was found, a death certificate was issued with a cause of death – Homicide due to Manual Strangulation. Hickman blamed the delay on OSU’s refusal to sign off on their finding for the death certificate. Hickman learned that since he was elected-Coroner, he could initiate the death certificate.
  • Two other events occurred between January 21, 2021, and September 16, 2021. Dr. Agnew’s report noted that Noble’s toe bones and a portion of the hyoid bones were missing. Delaware County investigators returned to the scene in March 2021, where they collected bones left behind during the initial sweep of the crime scene. Noble’s molars, once thought out for testing for DNA, were also found in the soil where the remains were found.
  • Prosecutors also requested a forensic report from Dr. William Smock before making a final ruling on the death certificate. Smock’s report was completed in June 2021. The same month Matheau Moore was arrested before the death certificate was signed.
  • The state’s only witness who physically reviewed and evaluated Noble’s remains was Dr. Agnew and one of her graduate students. The coroners from Delaware and Montgomery counties and Dr. Smock relied on Agnew’s report and crime scene photos for their opinions. Smock stated that the crime scene was staged and that Moore manually strangled his wife. All of the reports duplicated Dr. Agnew’s opinion into their final findings.
  • The defense had an opportunity to call one expert witness – Dr. Heather Garvin, Professor of Anatomy at the Des Moines Medical University. Her findings suggest that hanging should not be ruled out as a possible cause of death. She also indicated in her report that there was antemortem trauma to the nasal cavity, implying the injuries to Noble’s nose happened several weeks, if not months, before her death.
  • There was one final matter before proceedings concluded and after the jurors were sent home for the day. The defense filed Rule 29 to dismiss the case for lack of evidence linking Moore to the crime.
    • Menashe agreed with prosecutors that something nefarious happened to Noble. The state has not met the burden of proving who committed the crime from all the evidence presented. She believes the state is relying on unreliable testimony from John Kramer as proof Moore killed his wife. Kramer told police that he last saw Noble between 9 am and 10 am on May 25, 2020. He then mentioned that he could not be sure it wasn’t the day before. The information provided by Kramer was used in the police department’s news release. Kramer has never given a written statement to the police. His story changed when on the witness stand and new information was revealed that he heard the couple arguing and that Moore had been smoking in the home. None of the testimony heard in court has ever been verified.
    • Delaware County Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel argued that Moore and only Moore is responsible for the death of his wife. She suggested that Moore was staging the crime scene even while police were at the condo. She focused on an orange extension cord on top of a cooler. Moore told Officer Hollis that the cords on the table were not usually there and were suspicious. Schiffel said that Moore was trying to cover his tracks, even implying that Moore had the murder weapon in his pocket the day he called the police. In one of her arguments’ key moments, Schiffel said the state never said the murder happened inside the home.
    • Judge Wolaver immediately challenged her and asked if the crime did not occur in the home – where did it occur? Schiffel responded that they did not know and that the crime could have happened where her body was found.
    • A final ruling regarding the Rule 29 will come Thursday morning.

DAY 5 – 8/23/22

  • Jurors heard a full day of testimony from the State’s experts Tuesday, including the key witness Dr. Bill Smock.
  • Smock conducted the forensic analysis using reports from the coroner, anthropologist, and crime scene photos. Smock believes that the crime scene was staged and that Emily Noble died of manual strangulation.
  • Smock revealed to the jurors that he had not consulted with the experts before his opinion and only met them Tuesday before his testimony. Some of his findings included information provided in other experts’ reports. Smock never examined Noble’s remains or visited the crime scene for his opinions.
  • Dr. Amanda Agnew, an Anthropologist Professor at Ohio State University, examined the skeletal remains of Noble for trauma. Agnew’s findings included four fractures to the hyoid bone and a fracture to the nasal cavity. The injuries occurred at the time of death or post-mortem. A portion of the hyoid bone and toe bones were missing. The report was completed on January 21, 2021.
  • The defense tried to disqualify Agnew’s finding due to her lack of expertise in criminal investigations and discrepancies in her report. The final anthropology report was partially written by one of Agnew’s students. On cross-examination, Agnew admitted that Noble’s right nasal cavity was not fractured and that the other side of the nose had some deformity. It’s not clear if it was fractured.
  • When the body arrived at Ohio State University, the Montgomery County coroner’s office had already removed Noble’s clothing and shoes. A portion of the hyoid bone was missing, and a couple of toes. Noble was wearing her sneakers at the time of discovery. In addition, Noble’s molars, once thought to be taken for DNA testing, were located during a second search of the crime scene in March 2021. Additional bones were also discovered, but it was not discussed if they were animal or human or whether they belonged to Noble.

DAY 4 – 8/22/22

  • Jurors heard testimony from the State’s crime scene investigator, who documented the crime, collecting evidence and taking photographs. Plus, testimony from the three women who located Emily Noble’s remains in a wooded area west of her condo she shared with Mattheau Moore
  • The defense continued their cross-examination of the lead investigator, Det. Steven Grubbs. Attorney Diane Menashe poked holes in the State’s case by implying that there’s no evidence linking Moore to the crime scene. DNA testing on various items, including Noble’s water bottle and clothing, tested negative for DNA. Also, we learned that police never searched where Noble’s remains were found. It was initially thought that officers searched the area, but there were miscommunications, and the site was never searched.
  • There were discrepancies with the testimony of John Kramer. Kramer lived across the street from Noble and Moore’s condo. He never told investigators that the couple was involved in a verbal altercation nor told officers about buying Moore liquor and cigarettes the day after Noble’s disappearance. Kramer’s testimony changed once on the witness stand.
  • Chad Holcomb, Special Agent for the Ohio Bureau of Investigation, presented photos and evidence from the crime scene. Graphic photographs showed the location where Noble’s remains were found. A USB cord was wrapped around a tree branch above her body. An engagement ring, wedding band, and a black water bottle were found next to her left leg. Testing of the USB cord and other items tested negative for DNA.
  • The three women who located Noble’s remains testified to searching areas not included on the map. They immediately called the police to the site.

DAY 3 – 8/19/22

  • Investigators revealed evidence regarding the day they recovered Emily Noble’s remains for the first time Friday.
  • On the morning of May 24, 2020, Emily Noble and Matheau Moore traveled to the city of Buchtel to collect water at a local spring. They then returned to Westerville, visited the Field of Heroes, and had a picnic in the park. The couple went to several bars in the downtown area, snapping selfies at one of the restaurants, Koble Grill.
  • Once home, user activity on Emily’s phone ceased after 6 pm on May 24, 2020. Matt talked to a friend for 30 minutes just after 7:30 pm. There was constant user activity on his phone until 6 am the following morning.
  • Noble disappeared the day after her birthday, on May 25, 2020. Police canvassed her neighborhood and the wooded area northeast of her condo. Police could not locate Noble, and her case went cold for four months. It wasn’t until September 2020 when three women foraging in the woods to the west of Emily and Matt’s condo found her remains attached to a tree.
  • When officers responded to where Emily’s remains were found, investigators walked through a densely wooded area close to County Line Road. The mummified remains were kneeling with a USB cord wrapped around the neck. Emily’s right hand was clutching her right ankle, her left arm was down, and her hand was touching a black water bottle next to her left leg. A peachy color liquid was inside the water bottle, which was tested and found to have 6% alcohol.
  • Prosecutors eluded Emily being the breadwinner since she was employed by the State of Ohio and added Mattheau and her stepson, Joey, to her medical insurance.
  • On cross-examination, Diane Menashe, countered and pointed out that Emily had $96k in assets. The couple’s joint banking account had over $400k. Moore had inherited money from his mom after her death and placed the money in the joint account.
  • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: Texts Reveal a Marriage in Jeopardy
  • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: Day 3

DAY 2 – 8/18/22

  • Shocking testimony Thursday revealed that police never searched the area where Emily Noble’s remains were found. The Westerville Chief of Police said in a news conference in 2020 that the area where Noble’s remains were found had been searched three times
    • Several searches were conducted in the days and weeks after Noble’s disappearance using bloodhounds and a cadaver dog at the couple’s condo, the neighborhood, and the western woodline surrounding the area. Her body was found east of her home in a wooded area.
    • The cadaver dog searched the main road near the condo and a bike path, but the dogs were never sent into the woods.
    • A tip about a grave marker led officers to search the eastern woodline, but they went in from the bike path on the east side, whereas Noble’s body was found closer to the roadway. A tiny ceramic angel was found, but it was located in a different area than Emily’s remains.
    • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: Detective Describes Discovery of Victim’s Remains
    • WATCH: Staged Suicide Murder Trial: Jury Views Crime Scene Photos
  • Jurors heard testimony from two of Noble’s friends. They expressed their concerns about Noble’s relationship with Matheau Moore. Suzanne Cavanaugh said she saw bruising on Noble’s arm the last time she saw her in person. Their friendship deteriorated after Cavanaugh raised concerns about Noble’s relationship with Moore.
  • Brandy Zink said she never saw Emily again after a trip right before her disappearance. Their mini-vacation was cut short after Moore texted Noble that her stepson and Matt’s biological son had committed suicide.
  • Testimony from John Kramer, who used to live in the condo across the street from Noble and Moore, revealed he last saw Noble going for a walk on the night of her birthday. He clarified later in his testimony that he could not remember if he had the dates correct because of his age.

DAY 1 – 8/17/22

Court TV Legal Correspondent Julia Jenaé, Digital Content Manager Ivy Brown and Field Producer Tiffany Smith contributed to this report.

 

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