Amount of evidence delays case against teens accused of bus stop shooting
The attorneys for two boys accused of killing two other teenagers in 2021 say they’re still reviewing a trove of evidence in the cases and asked a judge on Friday for more time to complete the task.
They say the process of reviewing the evidence is made more difficult because the boys are being held at juvenile detention facilities outside Louisville that provide a limited amount of time to meet with attorneys and examine documents.
The attorneys, the teens and prosecutors were in court Friday for a preliminary hearing.
Assistant Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryane Conroy told Jefferson Circuit Judge Tracy E. Davis there’s likely more discovery evidence in the case against Demaurion Moore and Mekhi Cable than in any other case in the state prosecutor’s office.
The attorneys asked the judge to delay proceedings until late March.
Moore and Cable, both 17 years old, are accused of murder for the September 2021 killing of Tyree Smith and the November 2021 killing of Cortez Duncan Jr.
Smith, a 16-year-old junior at Eastern High School, was killed while waiting at his darkened morning bus stop when the boys allegedly pulled up in a stolen Jeep Cherokee and shot into a crowd of students. Two other kids were wounded, but survived.
Duncan was 15 years old when Moore and Cable allegedly killed him in an alley in west Louisville’s Shawnee neighborhood. Prosecutors also say Moore took part in a March 2021 shooting that injured a teen near the intersection of South Preston and Eastern Parkway.
“The commonwealth intends to pursue the murder indictments whether by trial or a plea,” Conroy said in court Friday.
A spark of public outrage followed Smith’s killing, in particular. Politicians and community leaders said the boy’s death should lead to policy changes. Erika Shields, the then chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, said his death was proof that schools needed more police to help combat violent crime, which was surging at the time. Louisville police reported more than 180 homicides in 2021 — a record high.
Moore and Cable were indicted into Jefferson Circuit Court in June 2022 and face a bevy of charges including complicity to murder, assault, and possession of a handgun by a minor. If convicted, they could face decades in state prison.
They’re both currently incarcerated in juvenile facilities outside of Louisville — Moore is being held at Adair Regional Detention Center in Columbia and Cable is held at the Warren Regional Detention Center in Bowling Green.
Cable will have a bond hearing next month.
On Friday, the boys sat next to each other in the courtroom, wearing gray sweatsuits, and talked quietly with their attorneys.
Michael Ferrarcio, Moore’s public defender, said the only way the teen will be able to have access to all the evidence against him is if he drives to Adair County and spends “hours with Mr. Moore.”
Prosecutors have collected thousands of pages of records from cell phones, surveillance cameras, police body cameras, social media and more that they say supports their claim that Moore and Cable are guilty of the charges against them, according to court filings.
Just a bystander
Prosecutors say Tyree Smith was never the intended target.
Instead, they allege Moore and Cable drove to the bus stop at the darkened intersection of 21st and Chestnut streets in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood looking for another teenager — the same teen that Moore and another boy are accused of shooting and injuring in March of 2021.
Court filings show police interviewed Moore a few days after the March shooting. Aaron Ellis, a spokesperson for LMPD, would not say if he was arrested following the shooting, citing state law that provides confidentiality for juvenile police records.
In early September, students at Eastern High School told assistant principal Steven Hawes about a shooting near the same bus stop where Smith would eventually be killed. The students told Hawes that two men warned them to cross the street before they pulled down an alley and shots rang out, according to records obtained via an open records request.
Two weeks later, Smith was killed.
Police used cell phone records and surveillance footage to identify Moore and Cable as the potential shooters that killed Smith. Within a month police obtained search warrants for the two boys and had recorded statements from both.
But prosecutors allege they were able to kill again just weeks later.
Police found Cortez Duncan Jr. in a Shawnee alleyway with a gunshot wound to the chest in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day. Minutes later, they got a call for another shooting at a house a few blocks away. There, police found Mekhi Cable shot in the chest and Demaurion Moore was hiding in a bedroom upstairs.
The boys were arrested in early December, according to court records.
On Friday, Anduane McOwn sat just outside the doors of the courtroom, waiting to be let in. He said he works as a sous chef and was on break to attend the hearing.
He’s been stressed ever since his son, Mekhi Cable, had been arrested, locked up and charged with the murders. McOwn believes his son is innocent.
“Tremendously stressed,” he said. “Stressed, stressed, stressed.”
He’d been making trips to Fayette County to visit his son at the youth detention center there. But now, with Cable in Bowling Green, he said it’s not fair to have him so far away.
He stays busy with work to keep his mind off his son. He said Mekhi’s older brother was killed a few years earlier. He would have been 19 now.
“This situation is just sad, for all parties,” he said. “These kids are just out here, doing whatever, it’s just sad.”
LMPD reported 10 juveniles were arrested for homicide in 2022, according to Ellis, the agency’s spokesperson. The same year, 18 juveniles were killed in homicides, he said.
Youth violence is the byproduct of societal shortcomings that leave young people under-resourced and unprepared, said Daryll Young Jr., the executive director of Coalition Supporting Young Adults, a Louisville-based nonprofit focused on helping disconnected youth.
“What most people should be cognizant of is when we're talking about youth violence, we're not talking about just an innate desire to hurt people,” he said.
Young said kids need more access to mental health resources, mentors, jobs and education.
“I think … our first reaction is to think punitive,” he said. “We can't, you know, punish our way out of this issue. I think we really got to … start looking at root causes.”
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said preventing gun violence is his number one priority. And in an interview Friday he said that he will soon announce a broad plan to address violent crime in Louisville that includes investing in community organizations and police officers and getting illegal guns off the street.
He said he attended a memorial service at the intersection where Tyree Smith died in September 2021.
“It still, to this day, sticks with me,” he said. “When you hear the family and friends grieving, rightfully so, it should be a reminder to everyone in this city that these aren’t just numbers, these are people's lives that are ending.”