Parole was denied Tuesday for the man who planned the 1997 double murder of a Colbert County man and his son.
Mark David Moore will not be eligible for parole again until 2013. He will remain in a state prison facility in Bibb County.
Moore, 46, was the mastermind in a plot to steal Harold Pugh’s pickup in 1997 and use it as a getaway vehicle during a bank robbery in Belmont, Miss.
Pugh and his 11-year-old son, Joey, were killed as they returned from a fishing trip on Cane Creek on July 20, 1997. Both were shot twice in the head and their bodies were thrown into a secluded area of Cane Creek, where they were found the next day, about 12 hours after the bank was robbed.
The two men who fired the fatal shots, Michael Craig Maxwell and Thomas Dale Ferguson, were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. They remain on death row. Moore pleaded guilty to felony murder and received a life sentence, with the possibility of parole. His plea came Aug. 20, 1998, after his murder trial was already under way.
Two others were also involved in the plot to steal Pugh’s Z-71 pickup and the bank robbery. Keno Graham was sentenced to life in prison for murder, and the fifth defendant in the case, Donald Risley, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery.
“I am relieved and happy they denied parole,” said Iris Pugh, the wife of Harold Pugh. “He’s where he should be.”
Iris Pugh addressed the parole board during Tuesday’s hearing in Montgomery and asked that Moore receive the maximum sentence. She told the board that Moore’s actions led to her husband and stepson not being there for Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions. She said her husband was also unable to be there for her while she has battled illnesses, including brain cancer.
“I’m glad I went,” Pugh said. “I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself had I not gone and (Moore) was granted parole, which could have happened.
“I will continue to go whenever he comes up for parole. He should serve the entire sentence because he is the one who planned it and told them not to leave any survivors.”
Attorney General Troy King also spoke to the parole board and echoed Pugh’s stance. He said Moore does not deserve to be freed from prison after causing the Pughs’ deaths.
“This Thanksgiving, the Pugh family will miss Harold and Joey at another holiday gathering,” King said afterward. “I am grateful they were not let down by having their state free the mastermind of their murders from his sentence. Instead, Mark Moore was ordered to serve five more years in prison.”
Moore did not appear at Tuesday’s hearing. His father, Melvin Moore, talked to the parole board and said his son should be out of prison since he was at home with his wife when the Pughs were killed.
He was told by parole board members that planning the robbery and murder was the same as being there and firing the fatal shots.
Moore was considered the ringleader of the group and called the other four together to plan the bank robbery, according to investigators. Part of the plan was to steal a particular model truck, which Ferguson and Maxwell spotted at the Cane Creek boat ramp July 20, 1997.
When Harold and Joey Pugh returned from their fishing outing, they were forced to hand over the keys to the truck and get back into the boat. Maxwell and Ferguson drove them back to the secluded area of the creek and killed them.
Moore, according to investigators, provided the guns used in the slaying and later hid them.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.