Homeless man indicted in Arizona priest killing

Gary Michael Moran, 54, is seen in an undated picture from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in...

Gary Michael Moran, 54, is seen in an undated picture from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Phoenix, Arizona. (REUTERS/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters)

David Schwartz, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 11:11 PM ET

PHOENIX - A homeless man who recently served time in prison for burglary has been indicted on first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges in the shooting death of a Catholic priest and beating of another pastor at a Phoenix church this month.

The seven-count indictment returned late on Wednesday also charged Gary Michael Moran, 54, with burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping and other felonies stemming from a crime that shocked the nation's sixth-largest city.

Moran is accused of breaking into the rectory of the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission church on the evening of June 11 and badly beating the 56-year-old Reverend Joseph Terra with a metal pipe.

Parishioners arrive to pray, outside the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission Catholic church in Phoenix, Arizona June 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Nancy Weichec)

Police said he wrestled away a handgun owned by Terra and used it to shoot and kill the Reverend Kenneth Walker, 29, before making his getaway in a church vehicle. The abandoned car was found several blocks away.

Terra was able to call police and administer last rites to his dying fellow priest despite suffering from severe injuries.

Police said Moran was arrested on a tip from a homeless woman who told detectives he had confessed the crime to her before checking himself into an emergency psychiatric facility.

Moran is a convicted felon and violent burglar whose arrest on June 15 came less than two months after he was released from a state prison. Authorities say Moran was further linked to the crime by DNA evidence found at the scene.

He remained held in a Maricopa County jail in lieu of $1 million bond. His attorney could not be reached for comment on Thursday.


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