Julio Mora

As I have stated before, I am trying to get into the habit of researching three or four cases and then composing them one after another.  This time I only researched two cases, and instead of composing them in order I stopped and decided to do the second one first.  Why?  Well, with all of the cases I have researched and looked into I would have guessed that I had "heard it all."  This case proved differently.

On May 27, 1994 in an office building in Fort Lauderdale Florida gunshots rang out.  When it was over two victims lay dead with four gunshot wounds each. Another suffered from two gunshot wounds but had still managed to wrestle the gun from the man who had shot him while another man held him until police officers arrived on the scene.

The two victims who still lay in the conference room dead were Karen Marx and Clarence Rudolph.  Rudolph was the head of the Senior Community Service Employment that was a subsidy of AARP.  The company helped seniors supplement their income through employment.  My research indicates that the company appeared to be like a temporary service in which they provided companies with employees that matched the skills of the people who have applied.  One of Rudolph's gunshot wounds was to the back of his head.  Karen Marx was an attorney for the employer and it was said was only there because another attorney could not make it to the scheduled meeting.  She was four months pregnant with her first child with her husband who was a Palm Beach County prosecutor at the time.  One of her gunshot wounds entered her uterus, killing her fetus instantly.  The man who suffered two gunshot wounds, one to his stomach and one to his shoulder, was Maurice Hall.  He was Clarence Rudolph's attorney.  

So what were all these people doing together and just what happened?  Julio Mora was a sixty-eight year old man who had worked for Rudolph's company in at least three positions.  He had filed a suit against them.  Most research says that it was an unlawful termination suit, but there were a few reports that this was a sexual harassment suit.  At his trial Mora would in fact bring up sexual harassment but I am unclear if there was anything contained in the suit.  For his part Rudolph had claimed that Mora quit the job, it is unclear as to which was the case. At any rate all of the parties were meeting at this office building to conduct depositions for the case.

Maurice Hall would testify that he had arranged the seating in which Mora and Rudolph had as much distance between them as the room allowed.  Upon his arrival to the meeting Hall stated that Mora was upset about the seating but nothing changed. There was a court reporter present who had used an audio tape recorder throughout mainly because Mora had a very heavy Spanish accent.  She would have no idea just what else she would record.

Mora was representing himself and according to Hall soon after the meeting began Mora pulled out a 9mm handgun and began shooting.  It is amazing the court reporter escaped uninjured.  Evidence showed that Hall had fled the room after being shot and that Mora had continued to shoot towards him.  Mora then left the room to follow Hall.  It was then that Hall wrestled the gun from him and another man held him until the police could arrive.

There seemed to be absolutely no doubt who had committed the murders. Mora would go on trial in April of 1997 to face two charges of first degree murder and a single charge of attempted murder in the first degree.  Throughout the trial Mora's defense attorneys had argued that Mora was not mentally competent. It seems that while Mora refused to allow his attorney to technically put on an insanity defense there had been a hearing and the judge had deemed him competent for trial.  I have to say that I question this decision.  At any rate the trial began and Mora insisted on giving his own opening statement.  Mora spoke to the jury in Latin in this statement.  There are also statements that Mora attempted to get the judge to allow him to call the kings of Spain and Morocco and the queen of Belgium in his defense.  Those requests were denied.

Mora would testify in his own defense.  I would like to tell you that he did so against the advice of his attorneys as is the case in most criminal trials but I am not so certain here.  Nor am I certain that if I were his defense attorney I would not have encouraged him to take the stand.  Mora would testify for four days and it was described as a "rambling."  He talked of a conspiracy to have him killed; he would claim that Rudolph had emitted poisoned gas into his apartment; he reported a burgundy van had been following him for some time; he was fed a poisoned chicken casserole.  He even claimed that he fired in essence of ten shots in the office building in self defense because masked gunmen had entered to room to kill him.  As far as Rudolph goes, Mora made claims that he had sexually and physically assaulted him although I could not determine just when these things were to have taken place.

Apparently the defense would show that Mora had bought several expensive air filters and large fans to ventilate his apartment.  A search had also found a gas mask and a makeshift oxygen tent on Mora's bed.  I can only assume the defense showed this to at the very lease claim there was evidence that the allegations he was making on the stand were evident prior to the shooting. While the defense itself had not claimed insanity they did have three medical experts that testified that Mora suffered from a delusional disorder and it is this disorder that can cause violent behavior.  For their part the prosecution had their own expert who claimed Mora was faking the delusions, and yet it appears that the prosecution really had no other theory in which there was a motive as to Mora's killing spree.  Of course they really did not need a motive since they absolutely knew they had their man.  It is only on the rare occasion that there is so much direct evidence proving who committed a murder.

On April 30, 1997 the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts.  I am unclear as to the reasoning but he was not sentenced until October of 1998 when he was given two death sentences.  At that point, at the age of seventy-two, Mora was the oldest man on death row (I unsure if this was nationally or statewide).  

I came across an appeal from 2002 in which the courts upheld his conviction but had vacated his death sentence saying that he deserved a new sentencing trial. The courts believed that when Mora had stated that he did not want his family from Spain to testify the judge erred in believing this meant Mora did not want any mitigating circumstances presented at the hearing.  While my research could find nothing to indicate if this ruling was appealed and reversed or in fact he did receive a new sentencing hearing.  However, upon Mora's death in 2016 he was listed as a death row inmate.  The word, "former" did not appear in anything I found so I can only assume that the original sentence was upheld or that he was sentenced once again to death.

So, I said in the beginning that this case had a very interesting aspect to it and up to this point I am sure you see nothing especially interesting about this case, aside from possibly the ranting it seems the defendant did on the stand.  That is because I am not done with Mora's story.  While I was doing the research and I came across the opinion of the prosecution medical experts opinion it was mentioned that Mora had once been charged with the attempted murder of his ex-wife, only under another name.  

In 1983 a man named Mario Zamora was charged with shooting his ex-wife (or at least in the process of being so), Sylvia in the laundry room of her apartment complex.  It was said that they were in a custody battle over their teenage daughter.  It seems that Zamora's (aka Mora) family had disinherited him at some point and their daughter had just inherited two million dollars.  I could not find a lot of specifics about his trial in 1984 other than the fact that he claimed self defense and after deliberating for thirty-five minutes the jury agreed, acquitting him of all charges.  It does appear however that his family sided with his ex-wife and no longer had anything at all to do with him and it appears that neither did his wife and daughter.  No one, including the attorney from his 1984 trial claim to know when or even how he had been able to change his name.  

An interesting footnote to this case involves the fact that Karen Marx's husband, would later become a county judge.  He would be the judge to accept the plea agreement for Paul Merhige in 2011.  I have blogged about this case in the past. Paul Merhige went on a shooting rampage in the home of his relatives at Thanksgiving in 2009 in Juniper Florida.

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