D.A. Discusses Haddock Murder Case
“These are my final thoughts on Emily's case now that it is all over … for whatever they're worth at this point,” Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger said late Friday afternoon.
Her thoughts followed the conviction in a two-week trial of Perry Schiro as accessory-after-the-fact to first-degree murder in the 2007 killing of Emily Haddock.
After three years struggling to balance five defendants’ varying and changing statements against what limited forensic evidence was available in this horrific violent crime, Krueger says she is finally able to look back and collect her thoughts.
“I am very satisfied with the jury's verdict in the Schiro case,” Krueger said. “The jury was very attentive, took lots of notes, and asked pertinent questions. It was evident that they took their obligation seriously, and they rendered a just verdict against Schiro.”
Haddock was home alone with strep throat when two men kicked in the back door to her house. Michael Currie shot her to death. He was arrested a few days later along with Sherrod Harrison, Ryan Jermar White, Van Roger Smith Jr. and Perry Ross Schiro.
Currie later admitted to being the shooter in a plea deal for life without parole. Separately, Harrison, White and Smith took guilty plea deals as accessories. Last month the Grand Jury indicted Schiro on the accessory charge.
His was the only indictment to reach a jury.
“The case against the defendants as a whole was very complicated, though,” the DA said. “Initially, defendants gave conflicting accounts of what happened and who was involved — including who was the person that actually murdered Emily.”
There was not enough evidence at hand to sort out the differing accounts.
“We couldn’t corroborate the statements with any of the forensic evidence and that presented huge evidentiary issues,” she said. “There were also some legal hurdles relating to joint trials and with the death penalty.”
The existence of alternative accounts among the several defendants could have led to many and lengthy appeals, with no end in sight for the Haddocks. At one point, Krueger worried any death sentence might string things out for decades — as she said it had in another case some years ago.
“In working with the Haddock family, we determined that our primary objective was to identify the individual responsible for Emily’s death and see to it that person would die in prison — either by lethal injection or old age,” Krueger said. “We achieved that goal in Michael Currie’s plea to first degree murder and his sentence of life without parole.”
That plea brought a strange twist to the Schiro trial. The actual killer took the stand. As he testified, mother and father, brother and other relatives sat in the courtroom listening to the man who murdered their 12-year-old tell how he did it.
“As part of that plea, he was required to admit that he actually killed Emily,” Krueger said. “The other co-defendants pled guilty and received prison sentences that were commensurate with their involvement in the case and the provable evidence we had against them.”
It wasn’t exactly what she’d have wanted to see happen in the course of justice.
“Personally, I would have liked to have tried Michael Currie for the death penalty, because I think that is what he deserves for what he did to Emily,” Krueger said. “However, my professional and ethical obligations to the Haddock family and the citizens of Moore County demanded that the cases resolve the way they did.”
Currie will die in prison for killing Emily Haddock.
“The Haddock family knows with certainty what happened to their daughter,” she said. “The other co-defendants are serving prison sentences. So, yes, I am satisfied that we achieved our objective with these cases.”
The day in court did not end in celebration, but it did end in a resolution — not a joyful, but an acceptable conclusion.
“Is it justice?” the DA asked. “Yes. … Is it perfect justice? No. That would mean the Haddock family would have Emily back, and that can never happen.”
After the trial Krueger handed back to Joy Haddock the photograph of her daughter she’d kept on her desk all these years.
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