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Report shows slaying victim feared defendant


PANAMA CITY — Before he was tackled by bystanders and charged with murder in the shooting death of 24-year-old Megan Pettis, Joseph Moody wrote a suicide note.

Though prosecutors declined to release the suicide note, many court records — or at least portions of them —are becoming public as the prosecution enters the discovery phase.

One investigative report obtained by The News Herald this week indicates Pettis, who had broken off a long-term relationship with Moody a couple of months before her death, was scared of Moody and had changed her phone number to avoid harassing text messages from him.

A Panama City Police investigator, who talked to Pettis’ parents after she was shot around lunchtime March 19 in a busy 23rd Street shopping center parking lot, reported that Pettis feared Moody. Pettis had moved out of Moody’s house in mid-January and got her own apartment at the end of that month, they said.

On at least one occasion, Pettis had taken Moody’s guns out their home because she was scared of what he would do, her parents told investigators. Moody had kept trying to initiate contact with Pettis, too, phoning and texting and showing up at her job.

Six days before she was shot, Pettis sent a text messages to an unknown recipient that stated: “He threatened me … said he was gonna find me … I’m just scared,” according to the report. She changed her phone number the same day.

The day before Pettis was shot, Moody composed but didn’t send a text message to his daughter. The content of the message is redacted from the report, but it is described as “very similar” to the suicide note.

Prosecutors this week declined to release the note.

“While it has been characterized as a suicide note, Moody’s actions after writing it lead us to believe it was a declaration of his intent. Confessions and statements made by defendants are exempt from public records laws,” State Attorney’s Office spokesman David Angier wrote in an email denying a records request.

Moody pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and discharging a firearm in public Tuesday. He is tentatively scheduled for trial in September.

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