An Indianapolis jury convicted a man who shot and killed two teenagers after discovering that one was a male cross-dresser.
Paul Moore, 21, was convicted Thursday of two counts of murder, criminal confinement, and arson in the deaths of Brandie Coleman, 18, and Gregory Johnson, 17, who prosecutors said dressed as a woman and went by the name Nireah.
Prosecutors said Moore was involved in an intimate encounter with the two teenagers, believed Johnson was female, and shot both when he learned Johnson was male. Their bodies were found July 23 in the backseat of a burned-out Jeep on the city's northeast side. Both had been shot with a .45-caliber handgun. Police never found the gun used in the murders, but the rounds recovered from both bodies matched bullets fired from a gun confiscated from Moore in 2002, which police later returned to Moore's mother.
Defense attorney Marcel Pratt blamed the killings on another suspect, Curtis Ward, who testified against Moore and his half brother, Clarence McGee. Ward, 25, faces trial April 19 on charges of criminal confinement, assisting a criminal, and arson. "This is a case built on lies and unreliable material," Pratt said. He said Ward had changed his story several times and also had access to the weapon investigators believe was used to kill Coleman and Johnson.
"Gregory Johnson didn't have a choice about who he was," deputy prosecutor Ralph Staples told jurors. "He was gay and was clearly struggling with that. He did not deserve to die in this horrible way."
McGee, 26, was convicted of arson, assisting a criminal, and obstruction of justice. Both men were scheduled for sentencing on May 5.