20-year-sentence in stabbing of correctional officer during riot

An inmate found guilty last week of attacking a Gulf Correctional Institution officer during a 2017 riot was deemed a habitual felony offender Tuesday and sentenced to 20 years in prison,
State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Jose Moreira, 30, was found guilty by a jury of aggravated battery and battery on a law enforcement officer Oct. 28. He was one of several prisoners charged in the attack that resulted
in a corrections officer suffering several stab wounds with a shank-type weapon. One co-defendant entered a plea and a third is awaiting trial.

Jose Moreira
This “shank,” witnesses testified, was dropped by the defendant after he was seen making stabbing motions at the victim during the attack.

Basford said the defendant faced the stiffer sentence after Circuit Court Judge Shonna Young Gay agreed with Gulf County Chief Prosecutor Tracy Smith’s argument that Moreira qualified as
a habitual felony offender. Aggravated Battery carries a 15-year sentence, but as a habitual felony offender the defendant was facing up to 30 years.

Smith successfully argued that the defendant’s prior felony convictions – 2 for dealing in stolen property, 3 burglaries, 2 grand thefts, 1 possession of a controlled substance, and 1 felon in
possession of a firearm – qualified him as a habitual offender.

The defendant was in Gulf Correctional Institution in 2017 serving time for some of those charges when the attack on the correctional officer occurred.

Statements from the victim given during the investigation conducted by the Office of Inspector General, Department of Corrections, stated the victim became involved in the disturbance at the
facility and tried to create distance between himself and a group of inmates chasing him with weapons. Moreira was part of that group.

The victim was knocked to the ground and another correctional officer testified that he saw the defendant making a stabbing like motion at the victim with a weapon. Other officers came to the victim’s aid and deployed chemical agents on the inmates and the weapon used by the defendant was recovered and shown at trial.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov or (850) 381-7454.