'EXECUTION' film star was on death row
Filmmaker Steven Scaffidi, left, and former death row inmate Bobby Moore field questions after the Wednesday night screening of 'EXECUTION,' a fictional film shot in a documentary style about the last seven days of an execution Don Gronning / Daily Record

ELLENSBURG - Filmmaker Steven Scaffidi wanted to portray the reality of death row with his movie "EXECUTION," which was shown Wednesday night at Central Washington University.

So he used a real death row inmate, a real warden and a real death row priest in his film, which tells the fictional story of two filmmakers who made a documentary about the last seven days of an execution.

"I talked to Billy Bob Thornton about this project," said Scaffidi, who has worked on films like "Dead Man Walking." But when he had a chance to cast Billy Moore, a former death row inmate, he did so.

"I think that's what makes this film special," said Scaffidi, who said he was in favor of the death penalty before becoming involved in making movies about it. Now he apposes it.

While "EXECUTION" is made in a documentary style, it is a fictional story. Moore, who played the condemned man in the film, on the other hand, has a story that isn't fiction.

He was sentenced to death for the 1974 murder of a 77-year-old man in the course of an armed robbery. Moore spent nearly 17 years on Georgia's death row and was within 72 hours of execution at one point.

The parole board commuted Moore's sentence despite the fact that he had confessed to the murder and was convicted. He is the only person in the U.S. freed from a death sentence for a crime there was no doubt he committed. The victim's family forgave him and asked for his release.

Moore fielded the bulk of the questions after the film, which was attended by many criminal justice students.

Did he think he served enough time for the murder? Yes, said Moore. Why do death cases take so long? Because of appeals, he said. The higher courts typically sit on the cases for a time before they decide to hear them, he said. In other cases prisoners may have a weak case and aren't eager to speed up the appeals processes.

Even when cases are overturned, states sometimes aren't eager to retry prisoners convicted of capital crimes.

"I know of two times death sentences were overturned in 1979," said Moore. The state wouldn't retry the men and they remained in prison.

Moore said he became a Christian and started making positive choices nearly as soon as he was arrested. Today he is a minister working with prisoners.

The film made an impact on some students.

"I was completely for (the death penalty) before tonight," said Amy Block after the film and discussion. "Now, I think it depends on the circumstances. I'm leaning against it."

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