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$1M bond set for suspect in murder of Phoenix priest

$1M bond set for suspect in murder of Phoenix priest

POSTED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 11:07am

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 11:08am

By Steve Stout & Breann Bierman

Phoenix, AZ (KPHO) -- Bond was set at $1 million for a 54-year-old ex-convict arrested in the shooting death of a 28-year-old Phoenix priest.

Phoenix police confirmed Monday morning that Gary Moran, a homeless man with an extensive criminal record, was arrested about 9 p.m. Sunday, almost exactly four days to the hour after the crime. Moran was jailed on suspicion of shooting the Rev. Kenneth Walker multiple times at Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church in south Phoenix on Wednesday, June 11.

Police believe the motive was burglary.

According to the police report, authorities were called to Mother of Mary Mission at 1537 W. Monroe St. about 9:11 p.m. Wednesday for a report of an unknown man who broke into the rectory.

The Rev. Joseph Terra heard a noise and opened the kitchen door that led to the enclosed courtyard, the police report states. The suspect struck Terra several times in the head with an angle iron while in the kitchen. Terra told police he went to his room and got a gun from the nightstand next to his bed. Terra said he was not able to shoot the suspect because of injuries to his hand. Terra said there was a struggle and the suspect made him get down and give him money. Terra said he blacked out and does not remember calling 911. The next thing he remembered was administering last rites to Walker, according to the police report.

When police arrived, Walker, 28, was found with several gunshot wounds in the rectory of the church in the area of the Arizona Capitol building. Terra was found severely beaten.

Terra was originally hospitalized in critical condition but was moved out of the intensive care unit Saturday night, though he will need time to recuperate. He is expected to make a full recovery.

CBS 5 News spoke with Terra on Monday. He said if weren't for all the support he's received, he would not be alive.

"I've been praying for all those who've been praying for me," Terra said.

Walker's Mazda SUV was stolen from the church and found approximately five blocks away the night of the crime, police said.

Police said the results of the DNA from the window screen, angle iron that was found in Walker's vehicle and stains inside the driver's door belonged to Moran.

On Saturday, a woman reported that Moran was "bragging" about beating a priest and robbing him, according to the police report. Moran reportedly gave a woman a bag with a camera that belonged to one of the priests.

On Sunday, Moran was interviewed by police and said he didn't remember what happened. Later during the interview, he told police he was attacked. Moran claimed there was a struggle in the hallway with the gun with one of the priests and the other priest then came after him and he shot that priest. Moran alleged he did not remember anything else and did not want to speak with police anymore.

Moran was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on one count of first-degree murder during a crime, first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, armed robbery with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft, misconduct involving weapons and other charges.

Moran was sent to the Arizona Department of Corrections prison in Tucson on Feb. 8, 2005, on burglary and assault charges, and was released on supervised parole April 24.

He served five years for a previous burglary in which he stabbed a homeowner who was home at the time.

He also has a 1989 conviction for felony burglary, and pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in 2000.

A Solemn High Requiem Mass for Walker was held Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Parish at 6401 S. Central Ave. His funeral will take place in Kansas where his parents live. 

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