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Moore alleges defamation over murder case

by EMILY BONSANT
Hagadone News Network | August 22, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — A man who had been accused of killing a Bonners Ferry chiropractor is countersuing the widow of the deceased for defamation. The venue of the case was moved to Bonner County in March 2021 where the proceedings will remain.

The case stems from the murder of Dr. Brian Drake, who was killed at his Bonners Ferry office on March 12, 2021.

On Aug. 27, Bonners Ferry chiropractor Dr. Daniel Lee Moore, 65, was charged with second-degree murder. Moore confessed to the crime when interviewed by BFPD Assistant Chief Marty Ryan, but later challenged his confession, saying it was coerced.

When the case went to trial, Moore’s confession was thrown out after defense attorney K. Jill Bolton successfully argued that the confession was coerced.

Prior to the criminal case, Drake’s widow, Jennifer Lynne Drake, sued Moore for wrongful death, emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional stress on her and her children, and inference with the prospective economic advantage.

She alleged that Moore and Drake were competitors and that Drake had taken on many of Moore’s former clients.

Moore issued a counterclaim, which was later sealed as it “continued highly intimate statements” that would be “highly objectionable to a reasonable person” and included liable statements. The counterclaim was sealed on Jan. 4, 2021.

The defense objected, claiming it indicated a pattern of Dr. Drake’s behavior that “established multiple persons, including the plaintiff” had more reason to kill him than the defendant.

The defense went on to claim that by alleging injury to her marital relationship due to the loss of her husband, Jennifer Drake “voluntarily subjected her relationship as well as those of her minor children” with the deceased to scrutiny by both Moore and the public.

The Drake family responded that the counterclaim was “libelous, fabricated, and malicious falsification of the truth.”

The venue for the case moved to Bonner County in March 2021.

The civil case was stayed, or put on hold until the criminal proceedings were complete.

In April 2021, Bolton moved to dismiss, claiming the prosecution relied exclusively on the suppressed confession to establish probable cause and lacked any additional evidence to support charges against Moore.

“The district court must dismiss a criminal complaint if it finds that the defendant was held to answer without probable cause,” Bolton argued, adding that the state failed to meet even the most minimal standard for charging someone in a criminal case.

District Judge Barbara Buchanan agreed in her ruling and found “there is no admissible evidence in the record to establish that Moore committed the crime for which he stands charged.

Boundary County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tevis Hull had asked the court on Feb. 26, 2021, to reconsider suppression of Moore’s confession, arguing it was voluntary and not the product of coercion. Prosecutors had also asked the court to use the alleged confession for impeachment purposes in the trial. However, both motions were denied.

“The court affirms its finding that the defendant’s alleged confession was involuntary and the product of police coercion,” Buchanan said in her ruling.

The length of Moore’s detention and the “repeated and prolonged nature of his questioning by [Bonners Ferry] assistant police chief Marty Ryan” were determining factors in the decision to uphold the suppression of evidence.

In the ruling to not overturn the suppression of Moore’s confession, Buchanan said she considered additional findings such as Miranda warnings, Moore’s age, education level, and whether Moore was deprived of food or sleep during his questioning.

“Considering the totality of the circumstances, this court finds that Moore’s will was overborne by the badgering and overreaching of police such that his waiver of his Miranda right to counsel was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently,” she said in the ruling.

The criminal case was then appealed in front of the Idaho Supreme Court in June 2022. The case was then dismissed as the state high court ruled that the district court decisions were reversed in part and affirmed in part.

The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that Moore’s confession is inadmissible and can’t be used to establish their case. However, the court reversed the ruling that the confession would also be inadmissible for impeachment purposes if the state ever refiles charges against Moore because his confession was not coerced and involuntary.

Justices noted in their decision that “[a]n illegally obtained confession should not give a defendant license to perjure himself at trial,” unless “coercion is found.”

The court affirmed the district court’s decision granting the dismissal, noting that if the state refiled the murder charge against Moore, his confession could be only used for impeachment purposes if Moore testified and denied committing the crime.

The criminal case was dismissed on Aug. 31, 2022.

On Nov. 21, 2022, the Drake family filed to bring back the case in civil court, as the criminal case had now ended. A request by the defense for a gag order was denied.

Newly appointed District Judge Susie Jensen is presiding over the case with a pretrial conference scheduled for Dec. 6, 2023, in Bonner County. A nine-day jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2024.