Longtime friend slain for wallet,’ prosecutor says

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Warren County Deputy Lionel Johnson escorts James Sanders to the Warren County Courthouse Monday. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/27/01] James Sanders killed his best friend for the 23-year-old’s wallet and pager, Assistant District Attorney John Bullard said Monday as Sanders’ armed robbery and murder trial opened in Warren County Circuit Court.

During his opening statement, Bullard said James Sanders, 24, lured Raymond resident Paul Moore to Gowall Road on Feb. 17, 2000, and shot him in the back of the head.

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“‘Damn that felt good. I wouldn’t mind doing that again,'” Bullard told the jury Sanders said after shooting Moore.

Sanders, who lived in Florence before his arrest, and his half-brother, 18-year-old Greg Sanders, were arrested March 13, the day after Moore’s body was found off Gowall Road in North Warren County.

Greg Sanders pleaded guilty to being an accessory and will testify at his brother’s trial. He was released from jail April 21 with a suspended sentence.

The half-brothers and Moore grew up in the same Vicksburg neighborhood, and Moore served as James Sanders’ best man at his wedding two years ago.

Most of the first day of Sanders’ trial was spent choosing the jury. Testimony was expected to begin this morning.

The presiding judge, Isadore Patrick, sequestered the jury of nine women and three men in a local motel, away from news reports of the case, for the trial’s duration.

Bullard said James Sanders told Moore that there was marijuana in the woods off of Gowall Road and they were going there to get it.

“He did it for the money in Paul’s wallet,” Bullard told the jury.

Bullard said Greg Sanders told authorities he was walking in front of Moore along the rural road when his brother pulled a 9 mm pistol and shot Moore in the head.

Sanders’ attorney, Eugene A. Perrier of Vicksburg, chose to make his opening remarks at the end of the state’s case.

Bullard said James Sanders told Moore’s family after his disappearance that his longtime friend had gone to Florida with a female hitchhiker.

“They followed every lie James Sanders told them,” Bullard said.

Along with Greg Sanders’ testimony, Bullard said, James Sanders’ confession will be used as evidence.

“He told police this is my crime’ and it is,” Bullard said.

On Feb. 15, Patrick denied Perrier’s motion to have James Sanders statement to police thrown out.

Sanders had testified that Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace told him he would face a lesser sentence if he gave a statement the day of his arrest.

Pace testified there was no coercion, and Patrick denied Sanders’ request.

James Sanders is facing two life sentences if convicted of armed robbery and murder.