Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Friend's Betrayal: The Murder of Tammy Epperson

Fighting for His Life

Powell's mother and two sisters testified in an effort to save his life. His mother admitted that one time Powell threw her against a wall and broke her back, but he was still basically a good person. A sister said Powell hit her over the head with a pipe and went to Juvenile Hall because of the attack, but she refused to believe he would be capable of murder.

One of the prosecution witnesses was Timothy Todd, who was the mutual friend of Powell and Tammy's ex-boyfriend. He cried on the witness stand as he read a letter in which Tammy encouraged him to stay off drugs.

"I'm so proud of you Tim, I wish I had your strength. You're a wonderful person," Tammy wrote.

"He picked on the wrong woman because I believe that he thought, 'Here's just another person on Skid Row. No one's gonna care. They're gonna believe that she was my girlfriend and she cheated on me and I was angry.'" Moreno reflected later on Powell's behavior. "Of course all that was disproved absolutely."

The jury came back with a death verdict.

Moreno said she planned to attend the execution if she was still alive by the time it happened.

"The only perfect punishment obviously is if he could trade places with Tammy and that can't happen," Moreno reflected. "But next to that, the closest justice this defendant sees is that 12 persons see it that he deserves death.

Tammy Epperson
Tammy Epperson

"Throughout this trial, his defense was 'Poor me, I didn't have a good father. Poor me, you know I've been to jail and nobody really helped me.' All these times he had psychiatric help, medication, people that would help, counselors, family, friends ... he didn't think about that.

"He focused on all the negative things. She made him angry. She got what she deserved. And so I think it was very nice that he finally saw that he wasn't gonna get away with this anymore. And so if there's justice, that's a form of justice, and it made me feel more confident in our system," Moreno said.

Barr said in the end, the people Tammy helped were there for her as well. They testified about what a difference she made in the lives of others.

"Although she couldn't speak, she was speaking through the physical evidence that was left behind," Barr said.

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