A Charlotte man will serve up to 34 years in prison following his conviction for second-degree murder during Catawba County Superior Court on Monday, October 10, 2022.
Steven Razelle Staples, 33, was sentenced to a prison term of 28 to 34 years after he pleaded guilty to the January 23, 2020, shooting death of 23-year-old Andres Osvaldo Moscotte.
The Honorable Alan Z. Thornburg, Superior Court Judge from Buncombe County, imposed the terms of the plea arrangement after Staples entered his guilty plea on the day his trial was set to begin.
The defendant will serve his period of incarceration in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
Officers with Hickory Police Department arrived at Moscotte’s residence on the day of the shooting and found him deceased from a gunshot wound to the abdomen outside the home. They located a spent 9-millimeter shell casing near his body.
The victim’s girlfriend had been inside the home at the time of the shooting. She told officers that Moscotte went outside to his vehicle and was attacked by an unknown male. She locked herself inside a closet while Staples and a co-defendant forced their way into the house and took items.
After some time passed, she went outside and found Moscotte unresponsive.
During their investigation, HPD officers observed several cameras inside and outside of the residence, and they were advised that the cameras were recording during the attack and shooting, and footage could be viewed from the victim’s phone.
Moscotte’s phone was examined, and several videos were found of the two suspects. The videos showed the defendant walk up and assault Moscotte by striking him in the head multiple times then shooting him. He kicks in the door to enter the house and removes a large box. The co-defendant also is shown entering the residence and assisting Staples as he removes items from inside the house.
The two men left in Moscotte’s vehicle, which was found unoccupied a short time later.
Earlier the day of the shooting, Staples met with an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) at a location in Hickory to sell guns. He arranged the sale of four firearms and showed the agent a Masterpiece Arms 9-millimeter pistol that he would not sell.
Six days after Moscotte’s death, the defendant returned to the ATF controlled location and sold the same Masterpiece Arms 9-millimeter pistol to the agent.
The co-defendant’s case is still pending in Superior Court, and he is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case was investigated by Hickory Police Department. Assistant District Attorneys Lance Sigmon and Nancy Lee handled prosecution for the State.