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Man to stand trial for first-degree murder in 8-year-old Kimbra Moore’s death

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, at 5:24 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, at 7:51 p.m.

Two key witnesses in the Sept. 4 shooting death of 8-year-old Kimbra Moore offered little insight Tuesday into why the girl died.

One testified that he was so high on meth that night that he remembers little of the events that led to Kimbra’s death.

The other, a parolee, testified that he knew there were warrants out for his arrest that night and was determined to avoid contact with police.

Neither had a good explanation for why Zachary Gaston, 24, pulled out a gun and began firing outside an apartment in the 3000 block of South Broadway. Wichita police said one of the shots pierced the outside walls of the mobile home where Kimbra was sleeping and struck her in the head.

At the close of Gaston’s preliminary hearing Tuesday, District Judge Clark Owens ordered him to stand trial for first-degree murder, aggravated battery, criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle and criminal possession of a firearm by a felon. Owens set a Jan. 14 trial date.

Among the witnesses was Kimberly McDonough, who said she was watching a movie at home when she felt a burning sensation as her husband suddenly started yelling for everyone to get down. She said doctors used 12 staples to close the wound the bullet left when it grazed her forehead. She said she still has nightmares about it.

Also testifying was Wichita police Officer Justin McCluskey, who – after tending to McDonough – decided to check on a nearby mobile home. He said he found what at first appeared to be three children asleep in a bedroom.

“I saw Kimbra laying on the bed with a puddle of blood by her head,” McCluskey testified. “It did not appear to me that she was alive.”

Matt West, 18, testified that he was with Gaston on the night of the shooting but was too high to remember much. He was so high, he said, that he was afraid to drive his own car.

“I was high the whole day,” he said at one point.

“And what were you high on?” defense lawyer Crystal Krier asked.

“Meth,” West said.

“Marijuana?”

“No.”

“Alcohol?”

“No.”

“Cocaine?”

“No.”

“You kept using meth so you could maintain your high?”

“Yes,” West said.

Also with Gaston was Christopher Bohem, 30, who was on parole for aggravated battery at the time. He said was driving West’s car because “I felt I had a better chance than anybody else of not getting pulled over.”

Bohem, whose parole has since been revoked, said he had outstanding warrants from the city of Haysville and knew that any contact with police would send him to jail.

Bohem said the three men and a female acquaintance went to the apartment on South Broadway to look for some property that had been stolen from a friend. He said he realized shortly after arriving that he wasn’t going to find the property. He said he stepped outside to use his cell phone and decided on a whim to leave in West’s car.

“It was like a real instantaneous decision,” he said.

As he was driving away, he said, he heard several pops and realized that someone from outside the apartment was firing at the car.

“I didn’t even stop to look back,” he said. “I figured if those pops were gunshots, there’s definitely going to be police activity.”

Detective Blake Mumma testified that the gun used in the shooting was found in a trash can in the bathroom of the apartment the men were visiting before the shots were fired. The occupant of the apartment said he saw Gaston take the gun into the bathroom and leave it there.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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