A Lincoln County jury found a New Zealand sheep shearer guilty of manslaughter Friday for stabbing her fiancé, Andrew Moore, to death in a camper trailer near Kemmerer.
The 12 jurors — nine men, three women — had multiple options following this week’s trial of Monique Sullivan, 31, who stabbed Andrew Moore in the chest with an 8-inch blade in the early morning hours of Feb. 20. They deliberated about six hours over the course of two days, returning a verdict at 10 a.m. Friday.
They were first asked to consider whether Sullivan acted in self-defense. Though Moore had reportedly been abusive in the past and was rude to Sullivan, the jury ruled that on the fateful night in the camper where Sullivan confronted Moore and “grabbed out” a knife, she was not acting in self-defense.
Next, the jury had to choose between second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. The murder charge carries a penalty of between 20 years and life in prison. The manslaughter charge is punishable by no more than 20 years in prison.
Lincoln County District Court Judge Joseph Bluemel warned the jurors to focus on the evidence of guilt or innocence, and not consider what penalties Sullivan could face. As is customary with trials, the potential penalties were not discussed in court.
Alternately, the jury could have acquitted Sullivan had it found prosecutors couldn’t prove either crime.
It chose voluntary manslaughter. That means Sullivan killed Moore “upon a sudden heat of passion,” but without malice.
Bluemel will set Sullivan’s sentencing hearing for a later date. Sullivan is being held in the Lincoln County jail until her sentencing at least.
Through A Carhart
During his closing argument, Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred emphasized that Sullivan gave an interview to Lincoln County Sheriff’s Detective Jody Gardner shortly after killing Moore.
Her court testimony Wednesday didn’t match up with her February police interview.
Sullivan was in a hospital in Salt Lake City with a self-inflicted wrist wound from trying to kill herself just before her arrest. She confessed at that time to hitting Moore, then grabbing a knife, then stabbing him.
“She picked up the knife and stabbed him. Her arm did that. Her body did that,” said Allred.
Sullivan told the detective she didn’t realize how close she was to Moore when she stabbed him. The blade went through his Carhart coat, two jackets and was buried 8 inches into Moore’s chest.
“That’s extreme force, folks,” Allred said. “A great amount of force was used to put this knife into his chest.”
Leading up to the stabbing, Sullivan was enraged, said Allred.
She and Moore had had a rough couple of days, in addition to their strained relationship. They were driving into Wyoming with the trailers. A truck broke. They had to retrieve a part, and the weather was cruel.
The night of Feb. 19, Moore went to drink with other male sheep shearers in the “boys’ trailer.” Moore and the others were laughing. The men were spilling beer on the women and laughing. At some point Moore spilled beer on Sullivan’s friend Stacy Hikawai, which Allred characterized as flirting.
Sullivan got angry and left the boys’ trailer for her own, Allred related.
Hikawai came over to comfort Sullivan, but it didn’t work, said the prosecutor.
“Throughout the conversation, Miss Sullivan kept getting angrier and angrier,” said Allred. “She wasn’t part of this family. She felt lonely. She wanted to go home.”
Hikawai fell asleep in Sullivan’s camper trailer. Sullivan stayed there, awake and alone, for several minutes, then went back to the men’s camper to retrieve Moore and confront him.
The men told her to “f*** off” and essentially shut the door in her face, Allred related.
“Remember what happened that morning as well, and how much this has been building up over the last three days,” Allred said. “Remember 6:30 that morning, what happened? A text message is sent. ‘I’m about to stab this’ … this C-word, right?”
Sullivan had sent the text to Hikawai.
There was discussion in court about how New Zealanders aren’t as shocked at the profane word starting with “C” as Americans are. But threatening to stab people, said Allred, is equally shocking in New Zealand and America.
Sullivan went back to the men’s trailer, where the shearers were still drinking, and retrieved her fiancé.
They argued outside, and Hikawai’s boyfriend testified he could hear Sullivan yelling at Moore.
The pair migrated back to their camper trailer, where Hikawai would soon wake to the sound of them arguing.
“Sullivan is yelling at Andrew Moore. Screaming at Andrew Moore. Calling him names,” said Allred, from Hikawai’s testimony.
Sullivan later told Gardner she was hitting Moore, but he wouldn’t quit verbally abusing her.
“He kept saying stuff. He was calling me names. He was insulting my family,” Allred related from Sullivan’s police interview.
That was when Sullivan “grabbed out” the knife and stabbed.
Hikawai fled the trailer after opening her eyes to find Moore bleeding, fresh blood on Sullivan’s hands and a bloody knife on the counter, court documents say.
Completely Different State Of Mind
Allred argued that Sullivan committed second-degree murder by acting with malice.
Killing someone with malice is mutually exclusive with killing someone upon a sudden heat of passion, meaning a prosecutor can’t prove both second-degree murder and manslaughter at once.
And yet, Allred had to argue for both crimes since the jury had the option to choose between them.
“If you feel that this was more of a sudden heat of passion, the state also believes they’ve proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of those elements,” he said.
In arguing that Sullivan did not act in self-defense, Allred said she was the aggressor in the situation, and didn’t back down from the fight once it started.
‘What The – ‘
Moore’s last words to Sullivan were either “Why did you do that Mons?” or “What the f*** Mons?” according to court testimony.
Deputy prosecutor John Bowers in his rebuttal closing statements said this undermined Sullivan’s self-defense argument.
“If you’d just attacked somebody and your dying words are, ‘Why did you do that,’ what does that tell us?” said Bowers. “He had no idea why she’d just killed him. Because he was not attacking her.”
Right Back In That Camper
Sullivan’s defense attorney Mike Bennett, conversely, argued that she was a woman driven to a harrowing extreme of having to choose between her life or Moore’s and that he charged her while yelling at her with gritted teeth.
Sullivan testified that Moore had his hands out and was standing over her after pushing her.
Bennett recounted the prior months of reported physical and verbal abuse she’d endured. These included an alleged choking incident from five months prior, and Moore reportedly yanking Sullivan from behind the steering wheel of the truck while she struggled to back up a trailer in February.
Also, Moore was reportedly cruel about Sullivan’s weight, even forbidding her to eat Pringles. He would tell her if she was unhappy in America, she could call her parents and get a ticket home. And when she said she’d like to go to Australia and become a nurse, Moore reportedly made a cruel joke about how she’d sleep with her patients.
“One thing’s for sure. Yesterday the state put Miss Sullivan right back in that camper,” said Bennett, referring to Bowers’ Wednesday questioning of Sullivan at trial.
“The glossing over of domestic violence: we’re not going to do that,” said the defender.
He criticized Gardner’s methods, calling Sullivan’s February police interview “conclusory, unfinished, and quite frankly, unfair.”
Bennett argued that Sullivan didn’t divulge in the interview that she was abused and acting in self-defense because she was feeling dismissed and ashamed.
Bennett also focused on Sullivan’s time alone in the camper, when a howling Wyoming blizzard seethed through the cracks and cut into the small, lonely space.
“It creeps into every part of your being,” said Bennet. “(The shearers) are Andrew’s friends. Not hers. And then they gaslight her: ‘Aw, you’re taking it too serious, we’re just joking around. We’ll pour beer and laugh at you.’”
When an ambulance took Sullivan to care for her wrist, Sullivan reportedly said, “Just cut my throat. I just want to die,” Bennet related.
The defender had claimed Moore made Sullivan choose between her life or his. He called it the “ultimate betrayal.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.