GIFTED STUDENT PREPARES TO LIVE HIS WHOLE LIFE IN JAIL

Newhouse News Service
Section: MAIN,  Page: A3

Date: Sunday, September 16, 1990

Barring a miracle, 22- year-old Cayce Moore will grow old and die in an 8-by-10-foot prison cell.


Moore was convicted of murdering Missy Lee Macon during a convenience store robbery in his hometown of Ragland, Ala., in 1985, when he was 17. At the time, he and two other teenage boys were role-playing in an espionage game called Top Secret. Moore was sentenced to life without parole, which in Alabama means he will never live outside the walls of the prison. A co-defendant committed suicide.


"It's overwhelming. You don't think about being in prison for the rest of your life. You have to have the mindset that this is my life, this is what my life has become," said Moore in an interview at the West Jefferson Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in north central Alabama.


Moore doesn't fit the profile of a typical adolescent murderer. In high school, he was enrolled in a program for gifted students and was so smart that he was considered a "square" by his peers. During the time he was free on bail, he studied physics at the University of Alabama. Now, in prison, he uses his spare time taking correspondence courses for a bachelor's degree in mathematics, playing chess and reading.


To challenge himself intellectually, he began role-playing at age 11. Moore and co-defendant Scott Davis played Dungeons and Dragons, stalking each other in the woods with dart guns, bows and arrows, and once even with real guns. They had a suicide pact.


Moore was a withdrawn, introspective child whose father died when he was two.


On the night of May 26, 1985, Moore, then 17, and another co-defendant, Chris White, 14, entered the convenience store in Ragland and played video games while they waited for customers to leave. Seventeen-year-old Scott Davis stayed in the driver's seat of the getaway car.


According to court testimony, Moore shot Macon in the back of the head after White cocked the gun and gave Moore the sign to shoot.


The murder shook the tiny rural village. Macon was the daughter of a former mayor of Regland and the case became a cause celebre. Each of the teenagers were from "nice" families and they had never been in trouble before.


The prosecution of the youths became a hot political issue and ushered in a new district attorney, Van Davis (no relation to Scott), who promised to try the three boys vigorously. He made good on his promise - all three were charged with capital murder.


Just days into Moore's trial, he attempted suicide by overdosing on prescription drugs. "At the time, I did not care if I got the death penalty. To me, death was better than the alternative of spending the rest of my life in prison," he said.


He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole.


He has adapted to prison life as well as anyone could expect. "Because I tried to commit suicide, I look at this time in prison as excess time, borrowed time, like the clock sticking at five to midnight," Moore said.


One of his co-defendants, White, pleaded guilty to murder and is serving a life term with the possibility of parole.


Davis' case ended more tragically. On the last day of his trial, Davis put a .357 magnum to the back of his head and pulled the trigger.


Aubrey Watson, father of the slain woman and the former mayor of Ragland, feels no sympathy for the three youths.


"If it had been up to me, I would have given them all the death penalty," he said. "It was cold-blooded murder. The one who committed suicide, we were proud of that."