Cops and Courts

Eppes found guilty in 2022 murder of Matthew Moore

Cleotis Cortez-Paul Eppes Jr., 49, of the Detroit, Mich., area, appeared nervous as he entered the courtroom of the Honorable Paul W. Gwaltney on the third floor of the Monongalia County Justice Center Tuesday afternoon. 

Shortly after 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, a jury of nine women and three men delivered a guilty verdict on all three counts with which Eppes was charged – murder in the first degree, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder and/or kidnapping – for the murder of Matthew Moore on May 7, 2022. 

“Praise God,” could be heard through the cries of Moore’s family as each count read ended with “guilty.”  

In West Virginia, Eppes’ crimes carry a life sentence. The jury will now be tasked with deciding whether Eppes will be granted mercy, giving him a chance for parole after 15 years. 

To begin this next phase of the trial, Eppes retook the stand and told the jury about his life growing up in the Detroit area. 

He said he got mixed up with the wrong crowd at a young age and said he was present for a murder when he was just 15 – a murder for which he had provided the gun but had not pulled the trigger. 

He was incarcerated for 21 years until his case was overturned when he was 37 and he would be freed. Twelve years later, he is now involved in another murder. 

Eppes got a little choked up as he spoke of his family, including a daughter and three grandchildren. He said he feared that he would not be able to see his father or stepmother again, both of whom were in the courtroom. 

Despite the guilty verdict, Eppes maintained his innocence, stating, “I didn’t pull the trigger on Matt Moore. 

“It may be hard for people to believe,” he said. “I wasn’t there.” 

While denying his involvement in Moore’s murder, he said that he does take responsibility for the drugs he sold and will take his punishment. 

The jury also heard from Moore’s younger sister and his fiancée, who seemed to pull the heartstrings of several jurors who could be seen wiping tears from their eyes as each woman talked about the victim in this case. 

“I miss the way he held me, and I miss the way he loved me,” Moore’s fiancée said as she spoke about all of the small gestures he would make to show her he cared. 

His sister recalled how much he cared for his family, particularly his nieces and nephews who he adored and who adored their “Uncle Buddy.” 

According to his sister, Moore’s mother suffered a severe decline in her health since the death of her son and was not physically able to be in the courtroom. She was able to send her message to the court, which was, in part, that Eppes not only killed Matt, but part of her as well. 

The jury will now return Wednesday morning to hear the closing arguments from attorneys on why they should or should not grant mercy in this case. They will then deliberate and deliver their decision. 

Attorneys on both sides did not wish to comment on the case at this time.