Saturday, September 18, 1999

Moses guilty of
trying to kill cop

Peter Moses taunted the officer
before shooting him at
point-blank range

By Debra Barayuga


A 21-year-old man will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of attempting to kill a police officer who was trying to arrest him for breaking into a rental car.

Peter Moses yesterday leaned on a table for support when jurors found him guilty of eight counts, including first-degree attempted murder, for shooting Officer Earl Haskell in the stomach at point-blank range on Sept. 11, 1998.

The mandatory penalty for first-degree attempted murder is life in prison with no chance of parole. He will be sentenced Dec. 7.

On a second first-degree attempted murder count -- for pointing a gun at police Officer John Veneri, who also was trying to arrest him -- the jury found Moses guilty of the lesser offense of first-degree attempted assault.

The jury had deliberated for two full days. It was deadlocked on a count charging Moses with attempting to steal Haskell's squad car. Circuit Judge Marie Milks dismissed the charge after the state agreed not to pursue it.

Veneri, who escaped harm, said he and Officers Haskell and Laura Chong are happy to be alive and hope to get on with their lives.

"I'm thankful that this is behind us and I'm thankful that the truth prevailed," he said.

Haskell was hospitalized for nearly two months. He lost parts of his colon and small intestine.

Deputy Prosecutor Rom Trader said the officers have suffered tremendously since the incident.

"It's taken a toll on all of us," Veneri said.

For a long time, smiling hasn't come easy for him, and he has become more withdrawn, he said. After hearing the verdict, he said he felt elated and actually smiled.

Deputy public defender Debra Loy declined comment.

The defense had claimed the gun discharged accidentally as Moses and Haskell scuffled at Makapuu Point, and that Moses did not intend to kill the officers but was afraid for his life.

Haskell testified that Moses had taunted him, saying, "Come on, you ------ " before shooting him. Moses then pointed the gun at him again but was distracted by Veneri, who had grabbed Chong's gun. Moses then turned and pointed the gun toward Veneri.

Moses said he panicked and fled toward Haskell's squad car across the road. Veneri fired 33 shots at Moses, who cowered behind the car door and in the car.

Moses was struck nearly 10 times in both legs, his shoulder and neck, but his wounds were not life-threatening.

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