A state appellate court affirmed last week the conviction and sentencing of Cleon Moen, a Longview man sentenced to life in prison in September 2016 for murdering his wife, Michelle.
Michelle Moen, 58, died from strangulation and was found with ax wounds to her head on Sept. 6, 2015. Moen attempted to take his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning afterwards, but he was arrested by Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputies and reportedly told them “it’s all pre-meditated, I planned the whole ... thing.”
Moen argued in his appeal that his trial court should not have denied his attempt to excuse a juror, and that his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment due to his claim of having dementia. The Washington State Court of Appeals Division 2 denied both claims.
“Juror 4 did not demonstrate any bias or prejudice,” the court wrote. “Accordingly, the trial court’s decision not to excuse juror 4 was based on tenable grounds, and the court did not abuse its discretion.”
They also found that Moen’s claim of diminished capacity did not prove his sentence was cruel, and that even if it had, the jury rejected his defense of diminished capacity at trial regardless.
When arrested in 2015, Moen told officers he killed Michelle Moen in response to his earlier charge of fourth-degree assault in 2014, in which she testified against him.
That case resulted in a hung jury, and Cleon Moen attempted suicide in the parking lot of the Hall of Justice after trial that day by shooting himself in the face with a shotgun. The Moens were in the process of a divorce at the time of Michelle Moen’s death.