Brattleboro man killed over drug debt, court documents state

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Photo Gallery | PHOTOS: The arraignment of Leonard Moffatt

BRATTLEBORO — A $10,000 drug debt appears to have been the motivating factor behind the shooting death of Sultan Rashed.

Leonard Moffatt, 39, of Sharon, was ordered held without bail on Monday afternoon. He entered a not guilty plea at arraignment Nov. 16, at Windham Superior Court Criminal Division for one count of murder in the first degree. According to the affidavit filed with the court, Moffatt owed Rashed $10,000 for drugs he purchased from Rashed.

"The parties are going to be negotiating a discovery schedule going forward," said Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein. "The affidavit indicates some drug related connection between decedent (Rashed) and the defendant."

The document outlines the movements of both men on Nov. 9, Gartenstein told reporters. Gartenstein pointed to premediation as an element in first degree murder charges and said additional evidence is being gathered as the investigation continues.

Moffatt's previous convictions, noted in the courtroom by Gartenstein, involved violence and spanned several states including Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida.

According to the affidavit, an employee of Brattleboro Collision Auto Body Shop found Rashed in a 2013 Ford Edge. The vehicle was registered to Rashed and his wife. The employee believed Rashed was sleeping until he stepped out of his vehicle and saw what looked like "blood coming out of his ear."

Rashed was pronounced dead at 7:22 a.m. on Nov. 9 after Brattleboro's police and fire departments arrived on scene with Rescue Inc.

Police said Rashed was slumped over the steering wheel with what appeared to be wounds to his right eye and chin. Rashed was wearing no shoes. The vehicle was locked and no keys were found in the ignition or at the scene. No weapon was found in the vehicle.

According to Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Elizabeth Bundock, Rashed died due to a single gunshot to the forehead.

Rashed's wife Sheena told police she woke up to find Rashed was not home. When Sheena called Rashed's cell phone, the device was ringing in the living room. She said this was very unusual.

Police interviewed a man who met Rashed in the parking lot of the auto body shop to purchase cocaine on Nov. 8. The man said he became concerned after seeing another vehicle at the site with an individual who appeared to be reclining in his seat, wearing eye glasses with his eyes closed. When the man and Rashed discussed the individual's presence, Rashed assured the man that the person in the car was "a buddy" of his and they had plans to meet.

According to the affidavit, Rashed drove away and parked adjacent to the other man's vehicle's driver's side window. While leaving the parking lot, the man who purchased cocaine from Rashed told police he saw someone standing in between the two parked vehicles but could not tell whether it was Rashed or the other man.

Police said surveillance video at Casey's Storage Solution, which shares a driveway with the auto body shop, was consistent with statements made by the man. Moffatt's vehicle was seen leaving four minutes after the man's vehicle left while Rashed's vehicle never did. Other surveillance video from the Lamp Lighter Hotel captured Moffatt's vehicle driving south on Route 5 toward I-91.

Police were issued a subpoena to search Rashed's cell phone and said they found calls consistent with the man's statements regarding calls made to advise Rashed of the suspicious individual before meeting up. Calls from another number belonging to Krista Moffatt were also discovered. Police said Krista and Leonard are married.

A friend of Rashed's told police about Rashed's drug dealing, mentioning only knowledge of marijuana and cocaine. The friend admitted to getting cocaine from Rashed in the past. The friend also told police a man from the White River Junction area regularly met with Rashed at the auto body shop parking lot to get drugs. The friend said that man introduced Rashed to another person who carried a handgun, had run up a significant drug debt and was also believed to be from the White River Junction area.

Police said they spoke with a man admitting he introduced Moffatt to Rashed a couple of years back for the purpose of purchasing cocaine. The man told police he had heard of the homicide and had believed Moffatt might be involved.

"Hey I just got a call that you were on camera in Brattleboro," the man wrote to Moffatt via text message, according to the affidavit.

The man said he had not actually heard about the cameras, according to police. The man said Moffatt called two minutes later and denied being in Brattleboro. Moffatt later admitted to the man that he went to see Rashed but said Rashed never showed up.

"Also during the conversation, Leonard (Moffatt) told (man) that he was going to end ties with the deceased (Rashed) and he didn't want any hard feelings," police wrote. "Leonard (Moffatt) also told (man) that he was going to lay low for awhile."

The man told police he was aware of a $10,000 debt which Moffatt owed to Rashed. The man described Moffatt as dangerous and said Moffatt owned several firearms.

"He advised that Leonard (Moffatt) told him he wouldn't be afraid 'to cap someone,'" police wrote.

Police said a text message to Rashed found on Krista Moffatt's phone said "Why didn't you get at me bud," suggested Rashed did not show up for a prearranged meeting with Moffatt on Nov. 8, the day of Rashed's death.

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 237.


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