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Hearing Reveals Details In Warren Homicide

Juston K. Moore, 18, of Warren, is escorted from Courtroom B at Warren County Courthouse following a preliminary hearing in which all charges in the case against him — homicide, theft by unlawful taking, and two counts of abuse of a corpse — were bound over to the Court of Common Pleas. Photo by Brian Ferry

WARREN, Pa. — A Warren, Pa., man accused of killing his grandmother with a hammer faces additional charges including two counts of abuse of a corpse.

Juston K. Moore, 18, of 619 Fourth Ave., Warren, was in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Laura Bauer.

He is charged with criminal homicide in the June 10 death of Kelly D. Wadsworth, 60, also of 619 Fourth Ave. She was Moore’s grandmother.

At the beginning of the proceeding, District Attorney Rob Greene made a motion to add three charges to the docket — theft by unlawful taking and two counts of abuse of a corpse. The bulk of the hearing focused on part of a recorded interview of Moore conducted by Warren Police Det. Tiffany Post from June 20.

Greene played 37 minutes of the recording. In the video, Moore can be seen sitting in a chair, speaking with Post, in the Warren police interview room.

Throughout the interview, Moore’s demeanor and effect did not change significantly. He seemed calm, explaining details matter-of-factly. The portion of the video played Wednesday starts with Moore talking about how he felt on June 9.

“I was really frustrated,” he said.

His grandmother, too, was frustrated. They had been talking, about jobs, money, paperwork, and a shaking washing machine.

“She was really upset,” Moore said. “She said, ‘Just kill me.’ “

Later, Wadsworth went to sleep on the couch, he said. He went to bed. He didn’t sleep, “smoking … half a pack of cigarettes … drinking coffee.” And thinking.

“I wanted to kill her because I thought that’s what she wanted me to do,” he said. “I was looking for some way to take control of that.” He said he wanted it to be as painless as possible.

He said the cigarettes — “killers” — and the music he was listening to convinced him that God was telling him to kill his grandmother.

“I was thinking I would use pills,” he said.

He used his phone to find out how much Trazadone — an antidepressant and sedative — it would take to kill someone.

Wadsworth had left a bottle of Trazadone on the table.

“You feel that she did that for you?” Post asked.

“She’d given me pills before to kill myself,” Moore said.

Asked if he thought the pills were for him or her this time, he said he thought they were for her.

He had another thought.

He’d seen on a movie that “you can suffocate someone with a pillow,” he said. Another search showed that “it would work.”

“I got a pillow, went out of the bedroom, into the living room, sat on a chair, and watched her for about 20 minutes,” Moore said.

He said she was restless, moving around.

After watching her, he tried to kill her with the pillow, he said.

Moore said he took Wadsworth’s pulse many times throughout the night, to see if she was still alive.

“I know that she could probably get back up … get back alive,” he said. “I ended up walking to the kitchen, getting the hammer.”

He covered his grandmother’s corpse with a blanket, he said, and retrieved a blue recycling bin from beside the house.

“I scooped her up and put her in the trash can,” he said.

Two candles representing Wadsworth’s mother and sister were nearby. He threw them into the can. “I wanted her to be with her family,” Moore said.

Following the playing of the interview, Post said an autopsy determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation, strangulation, and blunt force trauma.

She said Moore was picked up on separate charges by police in Luzerne County driving Wadsworth’s car.

The body was found later. According to Post, Wadsworth’s sons made the discovery on Wednesday, June 15, and called police.

Bauer determined there was sufficient evidence to bind Moore over to the Court of Common Pleas on all charges.

Formal arraignment is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25.

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