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Ironton man sentenced to life in prison for aggravated murder

May 24, 2019

IRONTON — A 50-year-old Ironton area man will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted Wednesday of the aggravated murder of a friend.

James W. Moore, 50, of Township Road 252, Ironton, was convicted this week in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court of the fatal shooting of Homer F. Crank, 43, last Aug. 27 in the driveway of Moore’s home. The jury also convicted him of tampering with evidence.

After hearing from Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson and defense counsel Mike Davenport of Ironton, Judge Christen Finley sentenced Moore to life in prison Thursday afternoon without the possibility of parole.

Moore declined an opportunity to speak before he was sentenced. Davenport asked for a lesser sentence for Moore. Davenport asked for the possibility of parole after he serves 20 years in prison to give him some hope.

Anderson recommended the life sentence without the possibility of parole for Moore.

“Throughout the trial process, the defendant never showed any remorse,” Anderson said. “He changed his story a number of times after the shooting. Prior to calling authorities, he tampered with the scene” by moving a pry bar closer to Crank’s body.

Melissa Crank, the victim’s sister-in-law, said relatives don’t hate Moore.

“You have hurt two families, mine and yours,” she said.

Because of the murder, Crank will never get to see his children grow up, she said. “All we have left is ashes on our mantel.”

Finley said she heard statements from both sides and the victim impact statement before addressing Moore.

“For the past three days, I have looked out into the courtroom and seen a group of hurting people,” she said. “I have seen pain, sorrow and tears on the faces of Mr. Crank’s lived ones. Likewise, I have seen the looks of pain, sorrow, fear, hope and, at times, tears on the faces of your loved ones.

“I cannot impose a sentence that will make either set of people whole or end the pain or sorrow that they might be feeling,” Finley said. “It is simply impossible. The pain that was inflicted on these people as a direct result of your actions on Aug. 27, 2018, is a pain and hurt that may never cease.”

An aggravated murder conviction carries five possible sentences. All are life sentences. One is life without parole. The other offers include parole eligibility after 35, 30, 25 or 20 years.

Finley ran the tampering with evidence sentence concurrently with the life sentence.

Following a three-day trial in Ironton, Moore was found guilty of using a handgun to shoot Crank five times in the chest and back.

The shooting was captured on two of Moore’s eight home security cameras. Instead of calling 911, Moore called friends and his mother before tampering with evidence by moving the pry bar close to Crank’s body, Anderson said during opening statements in the trial Monday.

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