The fact that Blanche Taylor Moore repeatedly poisoned her bedridden, suffering boyfriend while pretending to care for him struck the jury as so hideous and so cruel that Moore deserved to die, jurors said Saturday.
``To me, it was inhuman that one human being could do this to another one and stand there and watch it,' said juror Darlene Rierson, a 48-year-old insurance agent. ``I think it was the worst possible death anyone could have. All she had to do was stop. And she didn't.'Juror Micki Thomas, 25, a Walkertown cosmetologist, added: ``Watching him suffer day after day and not do anything about it, she not only murdered him one time, she murdered him several times. That outweighed any other factors the defense could have offered.'
With Moore's arsenic poisoning trial ending Friday in dramatic fashion - the death penalty for the 57-year-old Burlington grandmother - Rierson and Thomas agreed to discuss what led the jury to convict and sentence Moore for the 1986 death of Raymond Reid.
Other jurors, however, were reluctant to comment about the five-week trial.
``I hope I never have to go through anything like this again in my life,' said Layman Wayne Idol, 32, a Kernersville maintenance mechanic.
Moore is on death row in the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh. Her execution date is set for Jan. 18, 1991. Defense attorney David Tamer said Saturday that he will request a stay of execution this week to allow him time to prepare Moore's appeal.
Though Tamer predicted a long struggle ahead in the appeals process, the jury decided Moore's guilt and fate relatively quickly.
``We talked about everything. We took one vote each time,' Thomas said.
Even though the jury deliberated six hours to determine Moore's guilt and nearly four hours to decide her sentence, there were no holdouts and no drawn-out arguments, Rierson said.
``If we had taken a vote, just on our feelings without talking about anything, the moment we got back in the jury room, it would've been the same verdict that we brought back the next day,' Rierson said.
She said jury foreman Rayvon Richardson, a 58-year-old Pfafftown electrician, didn't ask for a guilty or not guilty vote until Wednesday morning - after they had already talked all afternoon Tuesday.
In the end, the best prosecution witness, jurors said, was the main witness for the defense: Blanche Taylor Moore.
Rierson made up her mind about Moore's guilt after hearing Moore contradict the testimony of nearly every prosecution witness, including the N.C. Baptist Hospital nurses who monitored Raymond Reid's medical care.
``It would have helped her more if she got up there and said, 'Yes, I did feed him. No, I did not poison him,' ' Rierson said. ``When she denied that completely, and you had already heard all these people, and it was documented, and then for her to get up there and say, 'I did not do this,' it was just unbelievable.'
Also, the jury dismissed the the much-disputed ``deathbed confession' attributed to the late Garvin Thomas. They all agreed Moore wrote the letter herself.
As for William Shulenberger, the defense handwriting expert who insisted that Moore did not write the letter, juror Micki Thomas said: ``I believe he was paid well to come there. We all felt that way.'
Rierson said the sentencing phase of the trial ``was the hardest part. Knowing that you are actually determining what happens to a person's life.
``I'll tell you, there was a lot of crying from all of us, a lot of prayers,a lot of talking. On the 15 questions the defense gave,we discussed each one very thoroughly.'
Defense attorneys offered 15 factors that they said should lead jurors to spare Moore's life. The jury agreed on only three: that Moore provided well for her children, submitted peacefully to her arrest, and demonstrated kindness and concern for others.
But the jury found that those factors did not outweigh the two factors offered by the state in support of the death penalty: that Reid's death was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel; and that Moore killed Reid for money.
``Raymond Reid gave his life for $60,000,' Rierson said. ``She was desperate, though. She did not know whether she would receive her money from Kroger. Her money was running low. She had no income. At age 53, it would have been hard for her to find another job after she had filed the sexual harassment suit.'
Rierson's conclusion fit with one of several motives offered by prosecutors.
Reid and Moore were both longtime Kroger employees. In 1985, Moore filed a $15 million sexual harassment suit against the company and quit her job of 33 years. Reid, who had dated Moore since 1976, was a store manager in Winston-Salem.
Prosecutor Janet Branch argued that as the sexual harassment case unfolded, Moore became convinced that Reid would side with Kroger when her case came to court. Branch also argued that Moore's savings were dwindling and she knew - five months before Reid's death - that she would be a one-third beneficiary of his estate.
Less than a year after Reid's death, Moore accepted a $275,000 settlement from Kroger.
When it came to trial evidence, Rierson and Thomas said everyone agreed that the three intensive care nurses from N.C. Baptist Hospital were the cornerstone of the state's case. The nurses testified about how often Moore fed Reid while he was hospitalized.
They also said that the testimony of Vincent Guinn, a nuclear chemist from California, was crucial. Guinn analyzed strands of hair from Reid's head that revealed repeated arsenic dosages in the three months before his death.
Thomas and Rierson said jurors were all surprised that defense attorneys rested their case after Moore's testimony.
``After her testimony, we were all waiting for them to come up with something big that would blow us away at the end,' Micki Thomas said. ``It never came.'
Rierson added: ``Someone even mentioned (the television courtroom drama) 'Matlock,' when this big thing just comes running through the door and the case turns around. When the defense rested, I thought, 'Is that it?' '
Even though the jury's decisions were clear-cut, Thomas and Rierson said, they were still agonizing. Rierson said she hasn't slept more than two hours a night in five weeks. She also said the faithfulness of Moore's family made a deep impression.
``I have very much compassion for her family,' Rierson said. ``If I could take away the hurt, I would. But we did not have the family on trial. We had Blanche Moore.'
She added: ``I don't see how anybody could have sat in that courtroom, saw the evidence given, heard the defense, and come up with anything different than we did. I don't care if it was us 12, the next 12, or 112 people down the road, I think the decision would have been the same.'