Niagara County prosecutors have confirmed that the suspect in the Falls' latest homicide is a convicted domestic violence suspect, who is currently on probation.
John Moore, 59, of the Falls, who was charged Saturday night in the stabbing death of William Harrison, is currently serving a three-year probation sentence in connection with a March 2018 domestic assault in the Falls. Moore has been charged with criminal contempt for violating a restraining order.
He was accused of throwing a chair at a woman, leaving her with a fractured rib.
"The case was in court two years," District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek said. "It was a case complicated by mental health issues and substance abuse."
Moore, who is a veteran, suffered a mental breakdown in the courtroom of retired Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon in August 2018 and was hospitalized at the Rochester Psychiatric Center after Sheldon found him not competent to stand trial.
After being treated, he was released and found competent in early 2019. He pleaded guilty to felony counts of first-degree criminal contempt and attempting to bribe a witness.
Sheldon, with the agreement of the DA's office and the Niagara County Public Defender's Office, which represented Moore, placed him on interim probation in effort to find him treatment for his mental health and substance abuse issues.
"We worked with the court and the public defender to get him help and to keep him from harming someone in the community," Wojtaszek said. "This (homicide) is a tragedy."
Wojtaszek said Sheldon kept a close watch on Moore, with frequent court appearances to monitor his progress. In September, Sheldon sentenced him to three years of probation after allowing him to withdraw his felony pleas and plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
On Saturday, Moore and a female friend reportedly had spent much of the day drinking heavily in Harrison's apartment at Niagara Towers in the 900 block of Cedar Avenue. Just after 4:30 p.m., Falls police were called to the apartment for a report of an altercation inside.
Moore's friend told police that he and Harrison, 69, had begun to argue and that Moore had attacked Harrison by repeatedly stabbing him with a knife. The woman reportedly jumped on Moore and stabbed him in the head in an effort to stop the attack.
Harrison was declared dead at the scene.
Moore was taken into custody by Falls police and rushed to a hospital for treatment. He has been charged with second-degree murder in the case.
Police and prosecutors said Moore has a history of violence beyond his domestic assault related crime. He served a four year prison term from 2007 to 2011 for hitting another man with a beer bottle during an altercation on Third Street in the Falls.