Jurors to get Renfro case

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Renfro

COEUR d’ALENE — Jurors could begin deliberations today to decide if Jonathan D. Renfro is guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore.

The conclusion of arguments and rebuttal Wednesday by attorneys in Coeur d’Alene’s First District Court means jurors will hear closing arguments this morning, followed by a series of instructions by the court before the final 12 jurors are chosen to render a verdict.

Jurors were advised this week to pack clothing and toiletries in the event they would be sequestered.

State law requires a jury to be isolated from the public, or anyone who could influence members’ decision, as they deliberate toward a verdict.

Jurors on Wednesday arrived at court with suitcases and duffel bags that they wheeled or carried into the jury room. The items were wheeled or carried out again at the end of the day, and the process will be repeated today.

If jurors find Renfro guilty of murdering Moore, another phase of the trial will begin in which the state will attempt to prove aggravating circumstances.

That is, prosecutors will argue that Renfro, through a series of actions since his incarceration in 2015, has shown a proclivity to murder.

District Judge Lansing Haynes heard arguments earlier this week to determine what evidence will be admitted in the trial’s second phase.

Prosecutors submitted reports of incidents dating back more than a decade to show Renfro has a propensity to murder. Some of the incidents included threats to family members, jailers and fellow inmates.

After considering motions regarding 22 of Renfro’s earlier actions that the state determined could establish the defendant’s affinity toward killing someone, Haynes on Wednesday said he would only admit evidence that showed the defendant had a violent nature.

He would not allow evidence showing that Renfro defied jail and prison rules, or that he used fishing line to reel contraband into his cell, or his efforts to jam cell doors to keep them open.

“I’m allowing relevant and material evidence that shows a propensity to commit murder,” Haynes said. “I am not allowing … attempts to escape, discussions of escaping unless it (shows) a direct threat to corrections officers.”

Two pieces of evidence he would allow is a threat by Renfro to kill a cellmate, and an escape plan that required injuring or holding jailers hostage, Haynes said.

If propensity is established, jurors would determine if the defendant should receive the death penalty.

Most of the testimony Wednesday as part of the state’s rebuttal hinged on whether Renfro purposely shot Moore in the face, killing him, and whether a defense witness and former inmate, Allison Cavilee lied on the stand. Prosecutors also showed a frame-by-frame video from Moore’s body camera showing the officer’s hand moments before he was shot to death.

Defense attorneys used the footage earlier in the week to show Moore had pushed Renfro’s gun hand causing the hollow-point bullet from the 9mm Glock to shoot Moore in the face instead of in his body armor.

Prosecutors contend Renfro purposely intended to kill Moore and the push was not a significant factor in Moore’s death.

Idaho State Police firearms expert Gary Tolleson told jurors Wednesday that a pointed firearm is deadly at distances less than a few yards, and even novice shooters can purposely hit a target by simply pointing a handgun — or pocket gun — at a closer distance.

Deliberately aiming is not required to purposely hit a target, he said.

“People have the ability to point a firearm and hit what they are pointing at,” Tolleson said.

In their rebuttal, prosecutors called Kootenai County Corrections deputy Rebecca Lederle, who knew Cavilee for several months while she was in jail on a drug charge, and for assaulting an officer.

Lederle said that Cavilee, a defense witness whose testimony centered around discrediting a state witness, was herself double dealing.

“She is dishonest and untrustworthy,” Lederle told the court before she was excused.

Cavilee had purchased urine from a pregnant inmate and used it to fake a pregnancy, which allowed her special treatment in jail, prosecutors said.

Attorneys will make a final pitch to persuade jurors today at the culmination of the trial’s first phase.

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