Arthur Moore, who has spent most of his adult life in prison, knew what to say when prison officials intentionally placed Dickie E. Anderson Jr. in his cell at the Osborn Correctional Institution three years ago.
"I asked him, did he know Big Shane?'' Moore testified Monday as Anderson's murder trial continued in New London Superior Court.
Moore, of New Haven, hadn't spent much time in New London and Norwich, where Anderson is from, but had been locked up with a man named Shane from this area.
Anderson did, in fact, know Big Shane.
"He said it was his cousin," Moore said. "We got comfortable because I knew somebody in his family."
The 45-year-old Moore, whose rap sheet carries at least 11 felony convictions, some for drugs and weapons, had agreed to elicit information from Anderson, who was suspected of murdering Renee Pellegrino in 1997 and Michelle Comeau in 1998. At the time, Anderson was serving a yearlong prison sentence for the attempted strangulation and unlawful restraint of his then-girlfriend.
As Moore told his story to the jury Monday, prosecutor Stephen M. Carney interrupted him frequently to ask for translations of street talk and jailhouse lingo.
"He said he had caught a body," Moore testified.
"What does that mean?" Carney asked.
"He said something happened where he killed a female," Moore responded. "... He said he was trickin' with her for $5 but she wanted more money."
Pellegrino was working as a prostitute at the time of her death. Anderson has admitted to having sex with her before she died.
Anderson told Moore he "put his hands around her neck and shook her to try to get her to shut up," Moore testified. Anderson said Pellegrino "was sleeping," so he called a friend who helped him take the woman to Waterford, where she was from, and "pushed her out of the car."
Pellegrino's body was discovered in the cul-de-sac of Parkway South on June 25, 1997. She was 41.
Moore said Anderson told him that Comeau, whom he met at his father's apartment, overdosed on drugs.
"He said he had sex with her and dropped her off over there by Franklin," Moore testified.
Comeau's body was discovered on New Park Avenue in Franklin on May 1, 1998. She, too, had been working as a prostitute.
When Moore went to correction officials with the information, they installed a recording device in the cell at the request of police. The device recorded 12½ hours of conversation between the two men but did not capture any confession from Anderson.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Christopher Duby, Moore admitted that he had testified at a previous murder trial and that he had later recanted his statement.
"I recanted my statement because my son was kidnapped," Moore said. "My son was kidnapped by a rival gang member that I saw kill somebody."
Court records indicate that Moore served as a witness at the trial of Leonard Talton, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence for shooting Tyrone Belton on March 22, 1997, at the Quinnipiac Terrace housing complex in New Haven.
Also Monday, jurors heard the clink of handcuffs as they listened to a recorded interview between murder suspect Anderson and state police Detective Keith Hoyt.
Hoyt went to the Office of Adult Probation on June 1, 2010, to interview Anderson about the Comeau homicide. Two other detectives were there that day to arrest Anderson for the Pellegrino murder. During the interview, Anderson initially said he did not know Comeau but later admitted he had seen her at his father's Norwich apartment on the day she died.
Under cross-examination, Duby asked Hoyt whether there was any place in an investigation for police to manipulate facts.
"I don't like the word 'manipulate,'" Hoyt responded. "We don't try to manipulate anything."
Duby then brought up an interview that Hoyt and another detective conducted with Mark Allen, a Massachusetts man who once lived with Anderson's father. He asked Hoyt if he had told Allen that investigators "played with dead bodies and manipulate things." When Hoyt said he didn't remember saying that, Duby asked Judge Arthur C. Hadden to excuse the jury, then played a snippet of the interview.
On the recording, Hoyt said, "We walk into those crime scenes, we play with those bodies, we manipulate things…"
Prosecutor David J. Smith said the 10-second snippet was not in context and that he would like the jury to hear the entire portion of the interview. Hadden said Smith should review the recording to find the relevant section before bringing it up to the jury.