Brattleboro murder suspect interview played at hearing
BRATTLEBORO — An audio clip featuring comments made by a man accused of killing Sultan Rashed was cut short when the man invoked his Miranda rights.
"It wouldn't be half as bad if I didn't have this migraine," said Leonard Moffatt, 39, of Sharon, who was held without bail after entering a not guilty plea on Nov. 16 for one count of murder in the first degree, in a recording after attempting to explain his actions and whereabouts on the day Rashed, 35, was killed.
Moffatt is suspected of shooting Rashed, of Brattleboro, on Nov. 9. Rashed was found dead in his vehicle at Brattleboro Collision Auto Body Shop. A $10,000 debt over cocaine is believed to be a motivating factor in the incident.
Defense attorney Chris Montgomery was given until Dec. 28 to prepare an argument after a weight of evidence hearing Thursday at Windham Superior Court Criminal Division. Audio interviews were presented at the hearing by Deputy State's Attorney David Gartenstein.
Being asked about a timeline on Nov. 9 by police in the recording, Moffatt said Rashed "pretty much blew me off" after arrangements were made for Moffatt to purchase cocaine from Rashed in Brattleboro. Moffatt said he met Rashed for the drug several times before.
"Ten minutes turned into a half hour," Moffatt said in the recording. "One of his buddies showed up and kind of freaked me out." The man who showed up in the parking lot of the auto body garage told police he saw only one person there, providing them with a description of a white male in his late 30s or early 40s with a goatee and glasses that were not dark or tinted.
Vermont State Police Sgt. Richard Holden confirmed a search warrant was obtained to retrieve "content information" from Rashed's phone. Conversations between Rashed and Moffatt were exchanged before Rashed was found.
"We're preserving everything," Holden told Montgomery when asked about whether all messages from a certain time frame would be available.
Another interview provided police with information on how Moffatt and Rashed met. A witness claimed to have knowledge of a $10,000 debt Moffatt owed Rashed, saying Rashed would give Moffatt cocaine to sell but would never completely pay Rashed back. The man said he introduced Rashed and Moffatt after meeting Rashed at a house party. The witness was sworn in at the conclusion of an interview with police he said he would not be willing to testify.
"The reliability here is of such a low level," said Montgomery.
"He was asked if everything you said here was the truth and he said 'on my God' and I think he said 'on my daughter's life' twice, which frankly from the court's perspective sounds a little more emphatic than normally required," said Judge Katherine Hayes.
The man told police Moffatt said he was going to "lay low for a little while."
"I found this kind of odd," the man said.
The witness and Moffatt both told police Moffatt would purchase cocaine by the ounce from Rashed. The man said Moffatt was addicted and that Moffatt was using and selling the drug.
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