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Man convicted on three attempted murder charges gets 100-plus years behind bars
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Attorney Larry Duttweiler and client Willie Joe Moran, right, wait for jury members to enter Hall County Superior Court Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, for Moran's attempted murder trial. Moran allegedly shot a Huddle House employee and shot at another woman who ran away. Less than 30 minutes later, Moran is accused of shooting a woman in a car outside of a Marlow Drive home. - photo by Scott Rogers

A Gainesville man was convicted of attempted murder Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the Jan. 23, 2019, shootings at Huddle House and Marlow Drive.

Willie Joe Moran, 25, was convicted by a jury on three attempted murder charges and two counts of second-degree criminal damage to property.

Superior Court Judge Bonnie Oliver sentenced Moran to a total 130-year sentence, with the first 120 years behind bars. The remainder may be served on probation.

There was a discrepancy between courthouse staff Wednesday morning regarding the exact number of years on the sentence. Some had tallied a total 170-year sentence, though the sentencing paperwork had a 130-year sentence printed.

Moran already pleaded guilty to multiple counts of aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by convicted felon and wearing a mask to conceal identity.“The verdict of the jury and the sentence of the court clearly reflect the seriousness of defendant Moran’s actions. The only reason that this case was not a multiple murder case is that the victims weren’t killed. Their lives will be affected forever. Defendant Moran should never see the light of day,” Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said in a statement.

According to the indictment, Moran was accused of shooting at Michael Benham, 60, in the arm and torso at the Huddle House.

At the Huddle House, Moran also chased Shekeria Thompson “with a handgun causing her to fall and break her arm,” an injury that required surgery. Moran also fired shots at her in the restaurant as well as “firing shots as she fled the restaurant, placing her in fear of receiving immediate serious bodily injury and death.”

Oliver described video from the Huddle House shooting as “one of the most chilling videos” that she has seen.

“This is the exact type of case that puts fear in law-abiding citizens because none of these victims was doing anything wrong,” she said.

In the aggravated battery count, Moran shot “the floor around Benham with a handgun, causing injuries due to shrapnel.”

Assistant District Attorney Kelley Robertson read a stipulation of evidence to the jury:

“Fourteen shell casings collected from the scene at Huddle House and 14 shell casings collected from the scene at Marlow Drive were tested by the (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), and it was determined that all of those casings were fired from the same firearm consistent with a Glock or Smith and Wesson 9 mm pistol.”

Regarding Marlow Drive, the grand jury charged Moran with criminal attempt to commit murder as to Yanira Smith-Rodriguez, 37, and Darvis Peterson, 23.

Smith-Rodriguez was shot in the face while sitting in a car with Peterson on Marlow Drive, authorities said.

Authorities said Peterson was not injured.

The gunshots to Smith-Rodriguez’s face caused a “shattered jaw, (a) mutilated tongue, loss of teeth and (a fractured chin),” according to the warrants.

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