The current student body may not remember the news from Sept. 25, 2010, of the murder of then 19-year-old Seton Hall University sophomore Jessica Moore. Part of the reason is because it has taken three years to bring the suspect to trial.
Jury selection began Wednesday for the trial of Nicholas Welch, who was arrested on Sept. 27, 2010, and charged with Moore’s murder, according to Katherine Carter, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office press agent.
Welch allegedly tried to enter a fraternity party in East Orange in the early hours of Sept. 25, 2010, returned with a gun and shot Jessica Moore and four other people at the party. Jessica Moore died that same day. Welch pleaded not guilty the day of his arrest.
Jury selection will continue today as homicide jury selection typically takes several days, Carter said.
Moore’s family members were present in the courtroom Wednesday and will be today, according to Cynthia Moore, Jessica’s aunt.
The actual trial, including opening statement and testimony, is expected to begin Feb. 25, but that date is subject to change based on the jury selection process, Carter said. The family also will return to New Jersey for the trial, Cynthia Moore said.
“My goal is to keep my baby’s spirit going to keep her not in the back of anybody’s mind but in the front of everybody’s mind,” Jessica’s father, James Moore, said. He added that he often tells complete strangers Jessica’s story.
Jessica’s father, mother and aunt all spoke about the delayed trial and their thoughts on the justice system.
James Moore said: “As far as the justice system, I do feel like over the years that for this starting to come together now, it should’ve come together a long time ago. I do feel like the system puts her on the backburner.”
Dr. Phyllis Moore Tolliver, Jessica’s mother, added, “Today I felt that we came further than we have in the past three and a half years.”
Cynthia Moore said, “It finally looks like we have a fair judge and a fair chance in court.” She continued to say that the family is used to hurting because they cannot change what happened.
“So each time they disappoint us we we’re victimized all over again,” she continued. “We were victimized by the people that committed this crime, we were victimized by the state and it continued up until this very week. We had not seen justice moving in our direction.”
Since Jessica’s death, Tolliver created what is now called the Jessica Moore Foundation.
In addition to providing tutoring and supplies to schools in Virginia, the foundation has two $500 scholarships that they give in her daughter’s name each year.
Tolliver said working with students through the foundation helps her to cope with the loss.
Cynthia Moore publishes updates on a website dedicated to news in their fight for justice for Jessica. A petition against the New Jersey judicial system is posted on the site.
She said that the petition was created because they “wanted people to know what was going on” and felt obligated to provide updates.
She said she has also posted some of Jessica’s music and papers to show people who Jessica was.
James Moore discussed Jessica’s love for music and singing. He said that a week after Jessica’s funeral, he could hear her voice singing to him. He said he heard one verse of the song repeat the most: “I’m gonna win this race, I’m gonna try.”
All three expressed that Jessica’s life “was special” and because of that they are determined to keep her memory alive.
Charlotte Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.