On tonight’s episode of Dateline NBC, Keith Morrison interviews family members and investigators in Robert Ayala’s murder case. Ayala was killed in an explosion in 2013.
Paul Moore, a family friend of Ayala’s, was found guilty of setting the explosive device that killed Ayala after he turned on an irrigation pump at a rice field at the Moore Brothers farm.
According to CBS Sacramento, the Sheriff’s Office received a letter on August 12, 2011 claiming responsibility for detonating the bomb. Three days later, they received another letter containing a diagram of the device.
On December 6 of 2011, agents searched Paul Moore’s home and found evidence linking him to the crime.
Paul Moore Was Sentenced to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) July 23, 2020
On July 16, 2011, Roberto Ayala and his son were on the Moore brothers’ rice fields, and Ayala was adjusting an irrigation pump when he son heard a loud explosion and then saw his father on fire, according to the original court case.
Ayala died instantly from the explosive device, and fire and law enforcement officials originally believed the explosion was an accident.
Roberto Ayala had worked for the Moore brothers for 19 years, and brothers Paul and Peter Moore reportedly shared animosity toward Ayala.
According to Case Law, Paul Moore regarded the Ayala brothers with animosity and said of Roberto, “Those son-of-a-b******, they are trying to take over my life. I’m going to get that F*****.”
Though there was no DNA evidence or fingerprints on the explosive device, the jury found Paul Moore guilty.
The Conviction Was Upheld in 2016
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) July 24, 2020
According to the Colusa County Sun Herald, Paul Moore’s sentencing and conviction was upheld in 2016.
“Paul was afforded a fair trial,” the appeals court said at the time. “His trial lawyer provided excellent representation and advocacy. But 12 jurors of Paul’s peers found that the circumstantial evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he murdered Roberto Ayala, and we must respect their verdict.”
The appeals court also said that Paul “complained bitterly about his life growing up on the farm” and “felt mistreated by everyone.”
The Sun Herald article states that the appeals court said the murder case was a “classic whodunit. And it is particularly challenging because, as Paul argues on appeal, there are no witnesses, no fingerprints on any of the bomb parts, no DNA, no confessions, and no admissions… But it is the jury’s prerogative, not ours, to weigh the evidence.”
They also stated that there was “an abundance” of circumstantial evidence that “either Peter or Paul, or perhaps Peter and Paul together, built and planted the bomb that killed Roberto Ayala.”
The circumstantial evidence against Paul Moore included opportunity to plant the bomb and familiarity with the farms, a unique skill set to fix electrical and pump problems, and Paul’s bringing investigators a piece of metal he found near the explosion.
In December 2016, a Colusa County judge approved a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2013 by Ayala’s family against Moore Brothers, Arlan Moore, Paul Moore and Roger Moore. The settlement awarded the family $20 million as well as $44,800 in worker’s compensation payment.
Paul Moore is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.