MORGANTOWN, W.Va. A Detroit man who was found guilty of a Monongalia County murder will serve consecutive life sentences.

Cleotis Eppes was sentenced in Monongalia County Circuit Court Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy in the May 2022 drug debt death of Matthew Moore. The ruling from Judge Paul Gwaltney comes less than four months after a 12-member jury decided that his sentence should be no mercy, life in prison with no possibility of parole. Eppes will serve a life sentence for the first-degree murder conviction, another life term for kidnapping Moore, and 1 to 5 years for conspiracy to commit murder. Gwaltney ordered Eppes to serve consecutive terms at the recommendation of Monongalia County Prosecutor Gabe Mucciola and members of Matthew Moore’s family.

Moore’s mother Shelia Harvey was the only family member to take the stand during victim impact statements.

“You killed my son,” Harvey said. “There was a trial, evidence was shown, and you know, as well as sitting in that chair, you killed him, and you just lied to the judge.”

“You killed my son,” Harvey said. “There was a trial, evidence was shown, and you know, as well as sitting in that chair, you killed him, and you just lied to the judge.”

Harvey was the only person to make an impact statement among the seven members of Moore family that were in attendance for the sentencing. In her statement, she reflected on the loss of her son on Mother’s Day weekend and the impact that it had on not only her physical and mental health but also on members of her family. She included Moore’s nieces and nephews, his sister, and his fiancee as people who have been deeply affected by Moore’s murder. The pain that she feels will never go away.

“I can’t even tell you what this has done to me; I may never be the same,” Harvey said. “Matthew had demons; he had a drug problem, but he was still a human being.”

Eppes was also ordered to pay restitution towards Moore’s family, with the $9,000 funeral expense paid by Harvey to be part of the payment.

“I did not kill Matt Moore. I didn’t have the vengeance to kill Matt Moore. I didn’t come out here searching to kill Matt Moore,” Eppes said. “When Matt was killed, I was not around.”

Ahead of the victim’s impact statement, Eppes was allowed to address the court, where he once again emphasized that he was not involved in Matthew Moore’s murder. Much like in previous statements made to the court over the course of his six-day trial, Eppes stated that he was nowhere near or in contact with Moore at the time of his murder. Despite evidence presented at trial that included testimony from co-conspirator Arlo Romano, Eppes’ cell phone data showing he was at the scene of Moore’s murder, and the actual phone being found in Moore’s back pocket at the Round Bottom Road crime scene, Eppes maintained his innocence.

“Hopefully, by the time this whole process is over and the truth of what really happened comes out, the family will forgive me and know I really didn’t take their son’s life,” Eppes told the court.

The sentencing of Eppes comes two years after the night Matthew Moore was murdered over what was testified to be a $30,000 drug debt. According to testimony from Romano (who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case) during the initial trial, he and Eppes reached a deal to recover drugs and allegedly stolen funds from Moore, which eventually led to Eppes telling Romano to coax Moore from a White Avenue home.

After Eppes held Moore and Romano at gunpoint, the rented truck they were in was then taken to Round Bottom Road, where Romano said Eppes and Moore stepped out of the vehicle, with Eppes later shooting Moore. Romano also testified that Moore was shot again by Eppes shortly after and that Eppes tried to wipe his Google data off of his phone after he realized he left it at the crime scene. While there’s still an appeals process pending for Eppes, the members of Matt Moore’s family who were in attendance appeared grateful for the sentence.

“He had nieces and nephews that loved him and missed him,” Harvey said. “They cannot understand why their Uncle Bubby is not coming back to play with them.”

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