Plea agreement reached
KINGMAN James Jeffery Moses accepted a plea agreement on Thursday to testify against Benjamin Henry, who is accused of murdering an 81-year-old man in 2004.
Deputy County Attorney Jace Zack said that although Moses did not pull the trigger, his actions that day led to John Harrison Wurtzel's death.
"The bottom line here is a perfectly innocent person is dead and murdered as a result of the crime committed by this defendant," Zack said.
Under the agreement, the first-degree murder charge was dropped in exchange for Moses, 43, pleading guilty to first-degree burglary, a class two felony. Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss sentenced Moses to nine-and-a-half years.
Moses also will testify against Henry, 28, at a jury trial scheduled for Jan. 19. Henry is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. Both men lived in Kingman.
Following his arrest on July 30, 2004, Moses led police to Wurtzel's body, which had been left in an open area off Antares Road.
Defense attorney Randolf Wolfson told Weiss that his client's compliance with the investigation led police to arrest Henry.
"My client's assistance in this case has basically enabled the state to build its case," he said.
"Before having conversations with Mr. Moses, there really was no knowledge of a body yet to be found," Wolfson said.
Henry is serving a 27-year sentence for a high-speed chase through Kingman and a shootout with police officers on Aug. 4, 2004. According to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, Wurtzel died July 26, 2004, at his home in the 2900 block of Calle Roberta Road in Kingman.
Moses said at his sentencing that he voluntarily went with Henry to help steal Wurtzel's 2001 Ford F-250 truck.
Moses told police that he worked for Wurtzel installing drywall and finishing roofs. He also knew Henry for about seven years but they were not close. He said he heard Henry and Wurtzel arguing about money before the shooting occurred. Moses allegedly admitted to police that he helped load the victim's body into a pickup but said he was too afraid to resist Henry.
"I was scared of him. I still am scared of him," he said.
Moses said Henry would show up in his house randomly at night and threatened his family on more than one occasion. Henry also drew unwanted guests to Moses' house through other alleged illegal activities.
Because of his violent, unpredictable behavior, Moses said he wanted to help Henry leave town. Moses said Henry was planning to move to Oregon and assume a new identity. Moses agreed to help steal Wurtzel's truck thinking the insurance company would replace it and Henry would be out of his life.
Despite being afraid of Henry, Moses said he never thought the theft would turn violent.
"John Wurtzel was a father to me," Moses said. "He was my best friend. I would never do anything to harm him whatsoever.
"My whole world just got shot out from underneath me."
Weiss said that although Moses willingly aided in stealing from a "close friend," Henry's conviction in the police shootout showed proof that he could have easily coerced Moses through threats of violence. Weiss presided over Henry's jury trial for the gunfight with police.
Moses disputed the pre-sentence report that states he has a history of misdemeanor charges. Wolfson said his client claims there is another James Moses. Weiss said the sentence was slightly mitigated and credited Moses for 524 days already served.
Moses admitted he used methamphetamine on the day of the murder.
Two women were indicted along with Henry and Moses. JodiLynn Wilson, 41, and Diana Hunt, 43, admitted to fraudulent use of credit cards belonging to Wurtzel's wife. The women charged more than $750 at two local stores the day after Wurtzel died.
Both were sentenced to probation. Hunt, allegedly Moses' girlfriend, also agreed to testify against Henry. Zack said neither woman was involved with the murder.