SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A repairman was cleared of murder after he shot and killed a Surprise resident last year in what he claimed was self defense.

A jury found Robert Moore, 27, not guilty of second-degree murder on Wednesday.

[WATCH: Arizona's Family was there when Moore walked out of jail]

“I’m happy my life starts over again right now,” Moore said after he was released from jail on Thursday.

In July 2018, Moore was doing air conditioning work at Frank Pineda's Surprise home. According to court paperwork, Moore told police, for an unknown reason, Pineda demanded half the money back he paid him and he leave. Moore then dropped a $100 bill, which was half of what he was paid, and began to pack up his tools. That's when Moore said Pineda began to punch him repeatedly in the face.

“I couldn’t believe it. It still made no sense that he would fight someone that he hired,” Pineda's widow Michelle Escalante said on Thursday.

[RELATED: Family remembers man allegedly shot, killed by a repairman (July 21, 2018)]

Moore allegedly warned Pineda he had a gun and told him to stop hitting him. However, Moore claimed Pineda continued to punch him. According to court documents, Pineda was then shot once in the head. Moore said "he feared for his life" and shot him in close proximity.

Moore admits he didn't legally own the gun he killed Pineda with.

According to court documents, police did not see any visible injury to Moore during the investigation.

[VIDEO: Handyman accused in Surprise murder tells police victim attacked him first]

"I noted no reddening, no swelling, no bruising, no cuts, or abrasions, or any other physical indication of a severe beating as described by Robert," police said in court documents.

However, Moore said on Thursday it was the worse beating he'd ever had.

"I believe if Frank would have punched him, he would have a broken nose, cuts on his mouth," said Escalante.

After the medical examiner conducted an autopsy, they noted Pineda's hands didn't appear to have any injury related to being involved in a fight. The medical examiner's office also said Pineda's gunshot wound wasn't consistent with a close proximity shot.

Escalante said she wishes she had the justice her family deserves.

"The hardest part for me, seeing my kids hurt and missing their dad," Escalante said.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Recommended for you