The three years since Moses Dubray was fatally shot in the head have been difficult for his family.
First they were hurt by the loss of their loved one and some of the ways the media reported — and the public reacted to — his death. Then several of his relatives passed away. Now, the family waits for justice as the accused murderer's court case continues to inch along after he dismissed two lawyers and decided to represent himself while serving a sentence for another crime in the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls.
"It's been over three years since Moses was murdered and left on a snowy dirt road in Fall River County," said Laurie McCollam, Dubray's longtime partner. "This whole process has been a roller-coaster ride, and I feel like we haven't even started moving yet."
Dubray was 32 when he was found dead on Jan. 11, 2017, near state Highway 89. He had walked away from the Rapid City Community Work Center the day before while serving a 10-year sentence with five years suspended for third-degree burglary in Bennett County.
Eight months later, Thomas Lucero was indicted on first-degree and an alternative second-degree murder charge for allegedly killing Dubray. He was also indicted on an aggravated assault charge for allegedly using a gun to assault someone the same day Dubray was killed. The assault victim is not named in the indictment because that person is an informant who testified before a grand jury.
Lucero, who was on parole for a first-degree robbery conviction out of Minnehaha County at the time of the murder and assault, had turned himself in back in January in response to a warrant issued against him for being a parole absconder.
McCollam and Irene "Jay R" Mabin, one of Dubray's sisters, both say they feel Lucero is trying to delay justice by deciding to represent himself.
"He is only finding the loopholes in the justice system and that is why my brother's killer's case is dragging on this long," Mabin said. "Every time we get close to the justice we are looking for, he finds another loophole."
McCollam and Mabin both described Dubray — who lived and grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation — as a man who loved life, laughter and his large family.
"Moses was my soulmate and my best friend," McCollam said. He "was a great guy, he had a smile that could light up the room and an unforgettable laugh. Moses loved life, he was always happy and smiling and having fun."
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She said Dubray worked in construction and was a hard worker who "could do anything he set his mind to." He loved working out, driving fast and watching sports car racing. He left behind a son who is about to turn 18 and graduate from high school.
"He was super proud of his son and he's not here to see him graduate," McCollam said.
"My little brother Moses loved his family. He wanted to make you happy when you were feeling down," Mabin said. "My brother's laugh is what I miss the most about him."
Mabin said her brother loved tattoos, drawing, dancing, horseback riding and singing aloud to Creedence Clearwater Revival. She said Dubray always wanted her to cook for him and they enjoyed sharing stories with each other. Dubray was planning on visiting her and wanted her to cook him a steak after he left the minimum-security prison, Mabin said.
McCollam said it was upsetting that media only used photos of Dubray's mugshots in stories about his death, and that readers wrote critical things about him and judged him because of his face and neck tattoos.
"That really hurt, because they didn't know him, they don't know how many people love him, the family he left behind," she said. "He is the victim here and people seem to forget that."
She also said it was painful to learn about Dubray's cause of death from the media after officials failed to contact the family before sending a press release. And she said one newspaper article made it seem like Dubray was the informant.
That article was updated to clarify that the informant was someone else after the family and some readers thought he was the informant, according to a Sept. 20, 2017, story in the Argus Leader. An Argus911 Facebook post about the issue was also deleted.
The family has also had to deal with several deaths since Dubray's, including his grandmother, uncle and sister-in-law who "all wanted to see justice served for him," McCollam said.
McCollam and Mabin both say that prosecutors and victim's advocates have been very helpful throughout this time.
"The loss of Moses impacted every single one of us in different ways. All of us are still grieving. We have had no closure, no answers, no justice," McCollam said. "But at the end of the day we're patient, we've been waiting three years, and we'll continue to wait until justice prevails."
— Contact Arielle Zionts at firstname.lastname@example.org.