Supreme Court of Georgia reverses conviction in Labor Day double homicide from 2012

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 11:18 AM EDT
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ATLANTA (WTOC) - The Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the conviction and two consecutive life-without-parole prison sentences of Walter Terry Moon, according to a release from the court. The Court also recommended that a new trial be held. Moon was previously convicted in 2016 for his role in the 2012 murders of Michael Biancosino and Emily Pickels.

The release says Moon’s attorney argued that the trial court “erred by removing a holdout juror during deliberations without sufficient cause.”

“We agree that the trial court abused its discretion in removing the holdout juror, and because the error is presumed harmful, we reverse Moon’s convictions, address those issues likely to recur upon retrial, and remand for a new trial,” Justice John J. Ellington wrote in the Court’s unanimous opinion.

The Supreme Court of Georgia has previously said “Dismissal of a juror without any factual support or for a legally irrelevant reason is prejudicial.”

The Court’s decision also reads, “As we have explained, ‘alternate jurors generally should not serve to substitute for minority jurors who cannot agree with the majority, as taking such a minority position does not by itself render a juror incapacitated or legally unfit to serve, and making such a substitution may constitute an abuse of discretion.’ Further, removing a dissenting juror when the jury is deadlocked could implicate the defendant’s right to a jury trial and a unanimous verdict.”

A jury found Moon guilty of malice murder among other crimes in the murders of Biancosino and Pickels in June 2016. Moon had six prior convictions, so he was sentenced as a recidivist to two consecutive life-without parole prison sentences plus an additional 45 years.

Moon remains in prison with the Georgia Department of Corrections as of Monday, according to GDC.

On the morning of September 1, 2012, Biancosino and Pickels were shot and killed while in Biancosino’s car near Pickel’s residence on Henry Street. Biancosino subsequently drove through an intersection and crashed into a brick wall across the street. Both victims died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The police investigation determined Biancosino and Pickels had been shot by Sidney Grant and Moon was his accomplice. Police say the suspects had been targeting Ron Allen, who was often in the neighborhood where the murders occurred and drove a car “nearly identical” to Biancosino’s, according to the release.

The Court’s release also says “several reluctant witnesses” testified to a friendship between Grant and Moon and Grant’s “animosity” towards Allen.

Michael Biancosino was the brother of attorney Jamie Casino.

The full text of the Court’s decision is below:

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