EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- A man tried in the beating death of a southwestern Illinois woman who claimed he pummeled the victim with a baseball bat in self-defense only after she first wielded it on him was found guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday.
Relatives of Catherine M. Fowler burst into tears after a jury convicted Scott W. Moore, 34, of murder and armed robbery charges.
Moore told Madison County sheriff's investigators during a videotaped interview played for jurors Wednesday in his first-degree murder trial that the deadly July 2009 confrontation with Fowler, 54, in her Granite City apartment came during a dispute about money he owed her for cocaine.
Moore first told authorities that he was riding his bike and stopped by Fowler's apartment to get some water and use the bathroom, only to find her body. But investigators challenged that account, telling Moore that surveillance footage showed Fowler alive outside her apartment minutes before it showed him entering and later leaving that dwelling toting a bag with a bat sticking out of it.
Moore then said he had an altercation with the 5-foot-4, 350-pound Fowler, claiming she was in a bad mood and brought up the drug debt before she began poking him with the bat, then swinging it at his head as she backed him into a bathroom.
"She keeps coming at me," Moore told investigators during the taped interview. "She keeps literally trying to crack my head with the bat.
"I'd never seen her like that, I mean never," he added. "I just wanted to get out of there."
Moore insisted that Fowler whacked him in the groin and swung at his head again after he fell to the floor. That's when Moore said he grabbed the bat and hit Fowler on the head before Fowler reached into her purse, by Moore's estimation reaching for a knife or gun.
"It was just all a blur," Moore told investigators. "I don't know how many times I hit her."
Moore, on the videotape, first claimed he didn't bring the baseball bat to Fowler's apartment, then said Fowler asked him to bring it before claiming he found the bat outside the apartment and took it inside.
Moore, whose trial began Monday, also is charged with armed robbery and home invasion. He has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed.
Raj Nanduri, a forensic pathologist, testified that Fowler was hit repeatedly on the head and face and suffered massive blunt-force injuries. Fowler had numerous bruises and fractures to her right arm, hand and fingers, Nanduri said, calling those injuries consistent with someone trying to defend herself.