After 5 hours of testimony Friday, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency
refused to commute the death sentence of Robert Moormann, who murdered and
dismembered his mother in Florence in 1984.
Moormann, 63, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday.
Moormann was already serving a 9-years-to-life sentence for kidnapping an
8-year-old girl in 1972. In 1984, he was granted a three-day "compassionate
furlough" to visit Roberta Maude Moormann, who traveled from Flagstaff to stay
with her adopted son at the Blue Mist Motel across the street from the state
prison complex in Florence.
Speaking from a metal cage in a prison auditorium Friday, Moormann, 63, told
the clemency board that he did not remember the murder. All he recalled, he
said, was touching his mother's breasts while she was tied to a bed and then
carrying her body to the bathroom.
The testimony focused on Moormann's diminished mental capacity and the alleged
sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his adoptive mother.
A forensic psychiatrist who had interviewed and evaluated Moormann referred to
him Friday as "the worst piece of protoplasm you'll ever see."
"This man was born condemned," the psychiatrist said.
Of the 130 inmates on Arizona's death row, only 6 have been there longer than
After dismembering his mother's body, Moormann went to various businesses
asking if he could dispose of spoiled meat and animal guts before he threw most
of her remains in various trash bins and sewers. He was captured soon
The killing prompted the state to change its policy on compassionate furloughs.
Moormann said Roberta had molested him as a child, but that was never
corroborated. Those who knew the pair said Roberta was "at most ... an overly
protective mother who had an odd relationship with her son," according to court
Moormann has told conflicting stories of Roberta's death, saying he
accidentally suffocated her during sex and later that she had begun sexually
abusing him again, prompting him to kill her in a fit of rage.
Medical examiners found no evidence of sexual contact between Moormann and
Roberta. They also found that she had been alive when she received cuts and
bruises covering her body and that "the dismemberment showed no rage, but
rather a methodical, meticulous activity," court records say.
Moormann has had a slew of health problems over the years and most recently was
hospitalized last week.
His hospitalizations have included surgeries to remove his appendix and to
perform a quintuple bypass on his heart. His attorney and prison officials
declined to say what was wrong with him most recently.
On Thursday, a federal judge declined to delay Moormann's execution and that of
another death-row inmate, Robert Charles Towery, who is set to be executed
March 8. The ruling has been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in San Francisco.
The men's attorneys argue that the Arizona Department of Corrections' new
execution protocol, released last month, violates the inmates' constitutional
protections against cruel and unusual punishment. They argue that the new
protocol gives too much discretion to corrections Director Charles Ryan,
improperly loosens requirements for the people who inject the lethal drugs, and
prevents attorneys from meeting with the inmates the day of their execution.
U.S. District Judge Neil Wake disagreed, saying that the new protocol does not
pose a substantial risk of subjecting either inmate to cruel and unusual
punishment, and that he has every reason to believe that the execution team has
been properly vetted and is properly trained in inserting intravenous lines.
The attorneys say Moormann was diagnosed in early childhood as being mentally
disabled, and the state cannot legally execute him. Arizona law prohibits the
mentally disabled from being put to death, and a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court
decision found that executing mentally disabled inmates amounts to cruel and
State prosecutors argue in court documents that a doctor evaluating Moormann in
1998 found that he had an estimated IQ of between 70 and 90, and that Arizona
considers a person mentally disabled only if the IQ is 70 or less.
Prosecutors say that at trial, another doctor estimated Moormann's IQ to be at
94 and testified that he was not mentally disabled.
A jury convicted Moormann of first-degree murder after two hours of
deliberations, rejecting his insanity defense.
Although the trial judge did find that Moormann had an impaired ability to
understand right from wrong, he cited several reasons why Moormann deserved the
death penalty, including that the murder was especially heinous and cruel.
The last inmate to be executed in Arizona was Thomas Paul West, who was put to
death July 19 for the beating death of another man in a 1987 robbery.
(source: The Republic)