Two cold-blooded killers or innocent men in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those are the very different portrayals of Jerry Alford and Dexter Moore presented by prosecutors and defense attorneys during the opening statements in their joint trial Wednesday. Alford and Moore are charged in the 2017 shooting death of Dereke Alexander outside of the Baho Convenience Store in Akron’s West Hill neighborhood.

“You will see them waiting for Dereke, stalking him and following him outside of Baho,” said Assistant Prosecutor Joe McAleese. “Within seconds, Dereke Alexander is shot and killed.”

Prosecutors did not offer a motive for the shooting.

“They cannot prove murder in this case,” countered Ed Smith, one of Alford’s attorneys.

Alexander, 57, can be seen on surveillance footage on the evening of Nov. 16, 2017, leaving Baho, 460 W. Market St., and turning up Oakdale, the street where he lived. Several people heard gunshots and then Alexander was found with four gunshot wounds. He was taken to Cleveland Clinic Akron General, where he later died.

Police identified Alford and Moore from surveillance video footage from Baho that shows the two Akron men following Alexander as he leaves the store. The video, however, doesn’t show the shooting.

Alford, 36, is charged with aggravated murder, murder and having weapons while under disability, which means he was prohibited from having a firearm because of a previous conviction. The murder charges include firearm specifications.

Moore, 34, is charged with felonious assault with a firearm specification and obstructing justice. Prosecutors claim he was complicit in Alexander’s death, though they say Alford pulled the trigger.

The jury trial in Summit County Common Pleas Judge Joy Oldfield’s courtroom was packed Wednesday with family members for both sides.

McAleese said Alexander followed his daily routine on the day of his death, taking the bus to work at 5:30 a.m., finishing about 3:30 p.m. and heading home. He said Alexander ran into his cousin, Wayne Alexander, at the Highland Square Pharmacy and Wayne dropped him off at Baho.

Surveillance footage shows Alford and Moore standing outside of Baho when Wayne Alexander drops Dereke off. The two men walk away from the store but then return when Dereke Alexander goes inside the store and Wayne Alexander drives away.

“As Dereke is making purchases, they are both there, lingering, waiting, watching,” McAleese said of Alford and Moore.

When Dereke Alexander exits the store, Alford does as well, followed by Moore. All three then disappear from the view of the camera.

McAleese said police discovered saliva next to Alexander’s body that was found to match Alford’s DNA. They also found Alford's cellphone about 40 yards away.

Police didn’t find the gun used on Alexander but investigators determined the same weapon fired all four shots, McAleese said.

Smith, who is representing Alford with attorney John Alexander, doesn’t dispute that Alford was at Baho, spit and lost his cellphone. He said this doesn’t mean Alford shot Alexander.

Smith said other people were at and around Baho, including the owner of a set of keys recovered by police. The keys were tested and found to contain someone’s DNA besides Alford or Morgan.

“That means someone else was there,” Smith said. “I don’t know how thoroughly that was investigated.”

Brian Pierce, Moore’s attorney, asked the jurors to put Moore’s name at the top of a page in their notebooks and to write down any testimony that implicates Moore. At the end of the trial, Pierce said he wants to compare his notebook to that of the jurors — and expects all of them to be empty.

“I’m confident, at the end of the trial, you will find Moore not guilty of all the charges the state has alleged,” he said.

Wayne Alexander, the first witness of the trial, said Dereke told him during the drive from the pharmacy to Baho that he heard someone might shoot him at the bus stop that morning and said he needed a gun. When they pulled up to Baho, Wayne said, Dereke pointed to one of two men standing in front of the store and said this was the person he heard might shoot him. He later identified Alford as the man his cousin pointed out.

The trial will resume Thursday morning and is expected to last through the end of the week and possibly into next week.

 

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.