IN THE COURT OF CLAIMS OF THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
IN THE MATTER OF:
Robert Lee Moore
O R D E R
Claimant appeared in person.
Joy M. Bolling, Assistant Attorney General, for the State of West Virginia.
An application of the claimant, Robert Lee Moore, for an award under the West Virginia
Crime Victims Compensation Act, was filed October 7, 2002. The report of the Claim Investigator,
filed December 13, 2002, recommended that no award be granted, to which the claimant filed a
response in disagreement. An Order was issued on January 29, 2003, upholding the Investigator's
recommendation and denying the claim, in response to which the claimant's request for hearing was
filed February 18, 2003. This matter came on for hearing June 27, 2003, claimant appearing pro se
and the State of West Virginia by counsel, Joy M. Bolling, Assistant Attorney General.
On July 1, 2002, the 35-year-old claimant was the victim of alleged criminally injurious
conduct in Dunbar, Kanawha County. While riding as a passenger in his car, the claimant alleges that he was beaten in the head by Chad Dawson. However, the police report prepared by a Kanawha
County Sheriff's Deputy indicates that the claimant voluntarily stepped out of a moving vehicle and
struck his head on the ground.
This claim was initially denied on the basis that the claimant was not a "victim of criminally
injurious conduct". Nothing adduced at the hearing convinces this Court otherwise. The Court is
constrained by the evidence to affirm the original Order finding that there was no evidence of
criminally injurious conduct.
The claimant testified at the hearing of this matter regarding the circumstances surrounding
the incident. According to the claimant, he, a former girlfriend named Belinda Williams, and Chad
Dawson were on their way back from a camping trip at his father's camp along the Williams River.
(Transcript, page 7.) The claimant stated that he was a back-seat passenger and Belinda Williams was
driving his vehicle. He claims that an argument ensued as they were traveling on I-77. (Transcript,
page 7.) According to the claimant, Ms. Williams refused to take him home for reasons not known
by the Court. She only agreed to take him to his cousin's house in Dunbar. (Transcript, page 7.) The
claimant testified that she exited I-77 at Sissonville, at which time the claimant leaned up from the
back seat and turned the key in an attempt to shut the car off. (Transcript, page 8.) However, he was
unable to get the keys out of the ignition. Eventually, the car came to a stop and all parties got out
of the vehicle. (Transcript, page 8.) The claimant stated that while all three occupants were outside
the vehicle, Chad Dawson began "cussing" him. (Transcript, page 8.) After this, all that the claimant
recalls is getting back into the car. (Transcript, page 9.) He has no memory of what occurred after
this. He believes that while in the car he was struck in the head with a Craftsman ratchet tool which
knocked him unconscious. (Transcript, page 5.) The claimant believes that Chad Dawson was the individual who intentionally struck him in the head and that Belinda Williams planned the attack and
told Chad Dawson to do it. (Transcript, page 5.) Further, the claimant testified that Ms. Williams
planned the attack on him because she wanted his property and vehicle. (Transcript, page 4.)
The claimant did not present any independent eyewitnesses testimony. He admitted there were
no other witnesses who saw the incident. The only thing he knows about being beaten up comes from
information provided by a person whose name he does not know, and who allegedly got the
information from Chad Dawson, while Mr. Dawson was drunk. (Transcript, page 5.) Claimant's
father, John Moore, also testified at the hearing. He stated that the claimant received a serious head
injury and was hospitalized as a result. However, he was only able to speculate as to the cause of his
son's injuries, because he was not at the scene of the incident. (Transcript, page 15.)
W.Va. Code §14-2A-3(k) defines a "victim" as a person who suffers personal injury or death
as a result of any one of the following: (1) Criminally injurious conduct; (2) the good faith effort of
the person to prevent criminally injurious conduct... ." W.Va. Code § 14-2A-3(c) defines "criminally
injurious conduct" in part as: "conduct that occurs or is attempted in this state or in any state not
having a victim compensation program which by its nature poses a substantial threat of personal
injury or death, and is punishable by fine or imprisonment or death.... . Criminally injurious conduct
does not include conduct arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle, except
when the person engaging in the conduct intended to cause personal injury or death, or except when
the person engaging in the conduct committed negligent homicide, driving under the influence of
alcohol, controlled substances or drugs, or reckless driving."
In the present case, the Claim Investigator's finding was that the claimant was not the
"victim" of "criminally injurious conduct". Therefore, it is the claimant's burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he was the "victim" of "criminally injurious conduct". The Court
is of the opinion that he did not meet his burden of proof. First, the police report from the Kanawha
County Sheriff's Department, which was part of the Claim Investigator's original findings, indicated
that the claimant was injured when he opened the door of a moving vehicle, stepped out, and fell to
the ground striking his head. Second, the claimant presented no independent eyewitnesses to testify
that he was a victim of criminally injurious conduct. The claimant was only able to testify that he was
told by a third party, whose name he could not recall, that Chad Dawson beat him up. This is
hearsay, vague, and very speculative in nature. For the Court to grant an award, it would have to
speculate as to how the claimant was injured. This Court has consistently held that it will not engage
in mere speculation to determine exactly what did occur in a claim. In re Smith, CV-89-10 (1989).
The Court is constrained by the evidence to stand by its previous ruling; therefore, this claim
must be, and is hereby, denied.