FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A man who police said supplied alcohol to minors at a May 2016 party where a 20-year-old died has pleaded guilty.
Rex A. Moore pleaded guilty to a single charge of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor and was placed into a pretrial diversion program. If Moore completes the requirements of the program, he will avoid a conviction in the case.
The case began May 26, 2016, at an underage party at Moore’s Woodburn property. Police and medics were called there just before 2 a.m. on a report of a vehicle crash.
Responders arrived to find remnants of an underage drinking party, with empty alcoholic beverage containers and some minors still left behind. In a field, a tipped Jeep was found, with 20-year-old Casey J. Sanders killed.
Investigators said Sanders was the passenger in a Jeep that was doing doughnuts in the field. Its driver – Jeremy L. Steinmetz – was convicted in December of causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
While police investigated, they learned the crash was part of a party that witnesses said was attended by 40-80 minors at any given time during the night, according to a probable cause affidavit. Officers found two beer pong tables and plastic cups lying on the tables, and witnesses said the minors were drinking from “beer cans, liquor bottles, or water bottles that contained liquor,” the affidavit said.
Several witnesses told police that Moore had been at the bonfire throughout the night and while underage drinking was happening. A spotlight was also set up to illuminate the party and beer pong table area, the affidavit said.
Witnesses said “any reasonable person definitely would have been aware of the underage drinking of alcohol,” the affidavit said.
Police noted in the affidavit that the party stretched for hours into the night and party-goers had vehicles parked throughout the property. Police found that Moore transported guests back to the bonfire on a utility vehicle, the affidavit said.
Moore also reportedly told two minors to leave the property before police arrived at the crash, knowing one was intoxicated, and hid the minors to prevent police from finding them, according to the affidavit.
“The defendant did nothing to terminate the party and the defendant knowing or intentionally allowed for the continued usage of the land for this illegal consumption by minors,” the affidavit reads. Investigators believe Sanders life would have been spared if not for the party, the affidavit details.
Moore was arrested and charged in March 2017.
The arrest was the subject of a 15 Finds Out special report into Indiana’s social host law.