Jenks teen charged with murder a 'person of interest' in neighbor's burglary
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 7:20 AM
JENKS - Joshua Mooney is a "person of interest" in the burglary of his next-door neighbor's home on the weekend before the 14-year-old is accused of fatally shooting Mary Escue after breaking into her parents' home about a mile away.
The neighbor reported to Jenks police that a shotgun and spare change were taken from her home sometime over the weekend of Dec. 15-16.
The very next day, Dec. 17, Mary Escue, 47, of Reno, Nev., was shot to death after interrupting a burglary at her parents' house.
A juvenile turned in the shotgun that was taken from Mooney's neighbor's home a few days after Escue's murder, Police Chief Cameron Arthur said. The investigation is pending.
Mooney, an eighth-grader at Jenks Middle School, has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder and second-degree burglary in connection with Escue's death.
He was on court-supervised probation for two violent offenses when he was arrested Dec. 18.
Chief Public Defender Jack Zanerhaft has applied to have the case transferred to Tulsa County District Court's Juvenile Bureau so that Mooney will have juvenile status.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14.
Special Judge Stephen Clark signed an order Monday granting the release of Mooney's medical records to Zanerhaft. Subpoenas have gone out to more than a dozen mental health care facilities, doctors, hospitals and public schools.
Over the 14 months leading up to Escue's killing, Mooney was in trouble with the law and in and out of mental health facilities.
The state Office of Juvenile Affairs was trying to correct his behavior by keeping him at home and requiring him to attend counseling.
Mooney was found to be delinquent when he was 13 after he and another teenager were accused of torturing a show pig by stabbing the animal in the Depew Public Schools livestock show barn in December 2011.
A few months later, in February 2012, he and two other juveniles were accused of punching and choking someone.
In March, Mooney was found unconscious and was rushed to the emergency room. He had overdosed on Tegretol, a drug used to treat seizures, and was placed at Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health Hospital in Tulsa, where he stayed for two weeks.
Other charges were filed against him around this time - on allegations of burglary, destruction of property and assault with a dangerous weapon - but they were dropped later for lack of evidence, records show.
Mooney was placed at Owasso Baptist Children's Home in mid-April. That stay lasted about two weeks.
Records show that he sneaked out, hoping he would get kicked out of the Baptist home. When it decided to keep him, he made suicide threats and was sent to the Oklahoma State University Medical Center in Tulsa.
A therapist there reported that he wasn't following the rules of his program and was doing much worse than he did in a previous hospitalization.
In late April, Mooney was again taken to Shadow Mountain, where he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depressive disorder. He was prescribed three psychotropic medications.
It was noted in an OJA report in May that Mooney "has severe mental health issues at this time."
Mooney was placed on probation under OJA supervision in May. He was released to his mother and ordered to attend school, obey his parents and attend individual and family counseling.
An OJA report says he had been given the "least restrictive environment for his offenses."
Mooney was living with his mother and stepfather. His mother has no criminal history, but his biological father, with whom he rarely had contact, has felony convictions for burglary and concealing stolen property, records show.
Since his suicide attempt, Mooney was attending counseling with his stepfather, with whom he had lived since he was 3, records show.
In August, Mooney's mother reported that he had refused to attend an after-school detention session. He was grounded and ran away from home after he wasn't allowed to play basketball, records show.
While away from home, Mooney reportedly became hungry and turned himself in at the OSU Medical Center. In his possession were a bike and some clothes that were not his, records show.
As punishment for stealing the items, his mother made him write apology letters, and an OJA case worker made him write a one-page essay about other choices he could have made, records show. He was also ordered to serve eight hours of community service.
An OJA review of his case in October indicated that he had passed drug screens, completed 40 hours of community service and was making average progress in counseling.
But there were still problems. On Oct. 1, Mooney's mother called the Jenks Police Department to report that her son had stolen her car and money from her purse. Police responded but did not make an arrest, records show. Mooney reportedly had in his possession Swisher Sweets cigars that he planned to sell at school.
As a result, an OJA case worker ordered him to see his counselor more often and to continue under OJA supervision, with a review due in 90 days.
Escue, who was in Jenks to visit family and attend a graduation, was killed before that review was conducted.
Authorities allege that Mooney hid when Escue came into the house and then surprised her and forced her into another room.
Mooney reportedly told detectives that while in that room, he aimed a rifle he had found in the residence at Escue's head and fired one shot.
The teenager is accused of then emptying Escue's wallet and fleeing in her 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.
He was arrested in Sapulpa on Dec. 18 after a person located some of the items that had been stolen from the residence and called the police. He told police he had driven to Sapulpa because he "had to get out of Tulsa County for what (he) had done," according to a police report.
Zanerhaft said he could not discuss the specifics of Mooney's juvenile record or mental health history while the case is pending.
But he said he is strongly considering a constitutional challenge of the state law under which Mooney is charged as an adult. A conviction as an adult could result in a life sentence without parole.
"Given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in this area, I am strongly leaning towards challenging the legality of the provision that allows the state to currently treat Josh as an adult," Zanerhaft said.
Original Print Headline: Teen charged with murder has lengthy record
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
Joshua Scott Mooney: The Jenks 14-year-old is charged with a Dec. 17 murder and has a troubled history including mental health issues.