For mothers of the accused, a separate anguish

Emotions of victims’ families always in mind

Diann Moore stood on Washington Street, a block from the homeless shelter where she has been staying, and looked for the Silver Line bus that would take her to Suffolk Superior Courthouse.

The 55-year-old Virginia mother of three wanted to time her arrival just right. She did not want to miss any testimony. But if she arrived too early, she risked coming face to face with the relatives of the four people her only son, Dwayne Moore, 34, is accused of killing.

“I don’t want to upset the families,’’ Diann Moore said as she waited on Monday, hugging her heavy handbag. “I don’t want to upset my son.’’


The anguish of the families of the victims of the 2010 Mattapan killings, one of the worst in Boston’s recent history, has been apparent through four highly publicized funerals and on the witness stand, where the mothers of the dead voiced their grief.

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But the pain carried by the mothers of the two men accused of the murders has been more carefully concealed, and compounded by the tension of sitting in a small courtroom packed with the victims’ families.

Diann Moore and Karen Clyburn, the 55-year-old mother of codefendant Edward Washington, 32, have been at the courthouse constantly, listening to a prosecutor tell a jury that their sons perpetrated a home invasion that ended in the shooting deaths of a young mother and her 2-year-old son. Often, they have sat next to relatives of the victims in uneasy silence, watching the prosecutor display grisly pictures of the crime scene or describe the horror of that night.

For Moore, whose son is accused of pulling the trigger, the accusations don’t stop when she leaves the courthouse. On the street and at Pine Street Inn, her home since she arrived in Boston last month for the trial, she has overheard strangers say repeatedly that her son, who she believes is innocent, should be executed.

“I’ve heard it from quite a few people,’’ Moore said as she sat on the bus Monday, the last day of testimony. “They don’t really know what’s going on in the courthouse. If he weren’t my child, I would be no different.’’


Moore has family in Boston, but they told her she could not stay with them because they feared retaliation. Unemployed, with no money for a rooming house, Moore had no choice but to stay at the shelter, she said.

Yet empathy has come from a surprising place: the relatives of some of the victims.

Delorise Flonory, grandmother and adoptive mother of 21-year-old victim Eyanna Flonory, has invited Clyburn, Edward Washington’s mother, to her church. The two women save seats for each other in the courtroom. On Wednesday, both waited in the courthouse as the jury deliberated. At one point, Flonory held Clyburn’s coat and purse while she spoke to her son’s attorney.

Clyburn said facing the families of the victims was her biggest fear when the trial started.

“You really don’t know how they’re going to accept you, but they have,’’ Clyburn said. “They have been very, very nice people.’’


Almost immediately after the trial began, Flonory, who declined to comment for this story, told Clyburn she does not fault her for what happened. In turn, Clyburn said she has been careful not to defend her son - though she believes he is innocent - in front of Flonory or the other families.

‘They comfort me. We hug all the time.’

Diann Moore,  speaking of the victims’ family

“You may get to see your [son] again. They won’t,’’ Clyburn said. “You have to be careful about what you say. . . . If she is upset with my son, I understand. I truly understand. You have your feelings, and I have to respect that.’’

Moore said she has found solace with the family of victim Simba Martin, 21, whose face and chest were riddled with bullets, a killing the prosecutor called especially vicious.

But Martin’s stepmother and father, Moore said, greet her warmly each time they see her, asking her how she is and smiling.

Moore said she has invited Martin’s parents to visit her in Virginia once the trial is over.

“They comfort me,’’ Moore said of Martin’s family. “We hug all the time.’’

Still, there has been tension. Midway through the trial, testimony was interrupted by screaming in the hallway. Court officers found Flonory’s sister crying and Moore standing silently. The confrontation, the root of which remains unclear, was not physical. But Moore said her son asked her not to come to court for a few days afterward.

“He told me he’s stressed enough as it is without having to worry about me,’’ she said.

Since then, she arrived a few minutes after testimony began and left 15 minutes before it ended.

Moore said she tries to be back at the shelter by 4:30 p.m. to ensure she will have a bed that night. Whenever she can, she goes to church or visits her son, who is being held at the Nashua Street jail.

He has spent half his life behind bars. When Dwayne Moore was 18, he was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter for stabbing a teenager at a Milton party. Moore argued self-defense.

When he was arrested in November 2010 in the Mattapan killings, he had been out of prison for only six months.

When he got out, he refused to move to Virginia, despite his mother’s urgings. Instead, he stayed at friends’ homes around Boston, including Simba Martin’s. His mother and friends said he was training as a cook and was determined to stay out of trouble.

“He was still socializing with the people he met in prison,’’ Diann Moore said. “That was the biggest mistake he made.’’

Dwayne Moore and Washington, their lawyers contend, were made the fall guys by the true culprit, Kimani Washington, Edward Washington’s cousin, who met Moore in prison in 1996. In exchange for reduced charges, Kimani Washington testified against both men, saying he helped them with the robbery, but left before the killings.

The defendants have said they had never met before their arrests. When they come into court each day, they both look toward the gallery for their mothers, usually their only supporters.

On Monday, after the last of the testimony, Diann Moore sat in the first row and called out to her son.

“Are you OK?’’ she asked him. He shook his head, despondent. “I’ve got a strong feeling,’’ she told him, smiling. He looked back at her and shook his head again.

Minutes later, court officers prepared to take him away.

Dwayne Moore turned to his mother again. “I’ll talk to you later,’’ he said. “I love you.’’

His mother told him she would come by the jail later.

“You don’t have to,’’ he said, then paused. “But if you do, I’ll talk to you.’’

Maria Cramer can be reached at

Clarification: Two weeks after this story ran, Delorise Flonory, who had declined to comment for the initial report, said she did not invite Karen Clyburn to her church. She did not dispute Clyburn’s other comments.