Man pleads guilty in killing of US priest

2017-02-26 08:00


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Phoenix - A homeless ex-convict has pleaded guilty to murder and aggravated assault in the 2014 shooting death of a Catholic priest and the beating of another clergyman during a burglary at a Phoenix church.

The plea deal spares 57-year-old Gary Michael Moran the possibility of a death sentence. Instead, the agreement calls for Moran to serve a life sentence in the death of the Reverent Kenneth Walker and the beating of the Rev Joseph Terra at the Mother of Mercy Mission.

Demanded money

"This plea ensures Moran will spend the rest of his natural life in prison and will not harm anyone in our community again," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office prosecuted Moran.

The attack occurred after Terra opened the kitchen door of the rectory to investigate noises in a courtyard.

Authorities say Moran beat Terra with a metal rod. Terra made it to his bedroom and retrieved his .357-caliber gun but was unable to fire before the attacker grabbed it, forced the priest to his knees and demanded money, according to court records.

Terra soon blacked out. When he regained consciousness, Walker had been shot. Walker died later that night.

Moran stole a camera from the priests and fled in Walker's car, which was found abandoned a few blocks from the church, authorities said.


Moran was arrested four days after the attack after police say his DNA matched forensic evidence collected from the scene.

Moran had bragged about beating and robbing a priest and that a woman told them Moran had given her a bag that contained a camera belonging to one of the clergyman, authorities said.

Moran has acknowledged his involvement in the crime, though he initially didn't remember what happened, authorities said.

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.