Even in jail, Kwentel Moultrie has been unable to prevent an additional felony charge from weighing down his already-onerous docket: last Wednesday, he was charged with assaulting another inmate, adding a third-degree felony to a rap sheet that also includes a first-degree felony rape charge and a life-felony murder charge from separate incidents.
Last week’s charge of battery on a detainee, captured on surveillance video, followed what amounted to the kind of dispute familiar to middle-school siblings: a fight over the TV remote.
Moultrie complained that inmate Oleg Walker, 29, was playing the television too loud. He wanted to take the remote away from him. Walker did not turn it over. There were words, then Moultrie ripped Walker’s glasses off his face, scratching his eye and took the glasses to his cell before returning them to Walker and finally taking possession of the remote. He had allegedly threatened to break the glasses had Walker not complied.
Walker a year ago was arrested on felony charges of using his smartphone to solicit an underage girl, pleaded and was convicted of a reduced charge of felony child abuse (sparing him the sex-offender designation), sentenced to probation, then jailed again last April when he violated probation.
What would normally be filed as a misdemeanor charge of battery is aggravated to a felony when the victim is either under 18, over 65, incarcerated or in some form of custody, or is a first responder.
In the scheme of things the new charge against Moultrie may not add up to much and would be rendered moot by convictions on other charges. But it diminishes Moultrie’s standing and increases the prosecution’s leverage in any potential plea agreement on any of the other looming charges–and it further amplifies Moultrie’s profile as an aggressor. That’s the sort of profile his defense attorneys are trying to mitigate. One of them had done such a convincing job of it that it helped lead to the hung jury a few weeks ago.
A mistrial was declared in Moultrie’s rape case six weeks ago when a jury could not reach agreement in what had been a problematic case from the start even for the prosecution, which tried to settle the charge with a deal that would have spared him prison or jail. He’d have had to serve five years on probation for a reduced charge of child abuse, and would have also been spared the designation of a sexual offender. He rejected the deal.
The case dates back to 2020, when Moultrie, 21 at the time, was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl he’d been partying with, and who had helped him and a friend of his sneak back into her friend’s house, where she was spending the night, after he had left earlier that night. The defense argued that it was consensual, and Moultrie’s age being what it was, that would not have been unlawful sex. The prosecution had a weak case, the alleged victim–its chief witness–having refused to take part in the trial. DNA evidence left no doubt about Moultrie’s act, but not its nature, and the prosecution’s principal witness, the alleged victim’s friend–who was in the same bed when the alleged assault took place–was drunk at the time, and testified poorly at trial. The jury’s inability to reach a verdict was not a surprise.
Moultrie was sent back to jail to await a new trial. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for June 14. Meanwhile Assistant Public Defender Regina Nunnally filed a motion for conditional release. Circuit Judge Terence Perkins denied it at the end of April, not least because of the other serious charge hanging over Moultrie.
He is accused of taking part in an armed burglary during a drug-deal-gone-wrong in Palm Coast’s R Section at the end of December. The killing took place in the home of Danial Marashi’s parents. The deal was with Marashi, who shot and killed Zaire Roberts, one of Moultrie’s accomplices. Marashi’s act is considered self-defense. Moultrie and fellow-accomplice Taylor Manjarres, his 19-year-old girlfriend, were each charged with second-degree murder and armed burglary because though they did not pull the trigger, Roberts died as a result of the burglary. Marashi has since been arrested on separate drug charges. He faces three third-degree felonies. He immediately posted bail on $10,500 bond and has been free since the March 31 arrest.