VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WRIC) — A Henrico man was sentenced to 48 years in prison by a judge in Virginia Beach after he shot his ex-girlfriend 20 times over a diploma from an online university.
Courtney Ian Moreno plead guilty in August 2021 to charges of first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
According to the commonwealth’s attorney for Virginia Beach, Estella Sophia Hoggard, Moreno’s ex-girlfriend, told her then-boyfriend that on the night of May 13, 2019, Moreno was repeatedly texting and calling her, demanding the return of his diploma from Kaplan University, an online, for-profit college.
At just after 10:30 p.m., Hoggard left her apartment carrying the diploma, telling her boyfriend she would be back shortly.
Meanwhile, cell phone records showed that Moreno had driven from Henrico to the scene of the murder, then returned later that night.
Around midnight, Virginia Beach police discovered Hoggard’s car in a parking lot with the headlights still on and engine running. Hoggard was found dead in the driver’s seat, having been shot over 20 times.
Video surveillance of the parking lot showed Moreno arriving in the parking lot around 10:40 p.m., with Hoggard arriving some 20 minutes later.
Her car stopped, then rolled forward, eventually coming to rest in a grassy median, where police found it an hour later.
According to the commonwealth’s attorney, the footage shows a second vehicle then drove up to her car. An individual later identified as Moreno emerged, approached Hoggard’s vehicle, then drove away.
Police found a dozen shell casings at the spot where surveillance video shows Hoggard first stopped, in addition to the shells found in and around her car where it finally came to rest, suggesting that Moreno shot at her two separate times in both locations.
According to Virginia Beach police, later that night Moreno “searched the Internet for pornography, reports of bodies found in Virginia Beach, and how to remove gunshot residue.”
Moreno has been sentenced to serve 48 years with 9 suspended, meaning he will likely serve 39 years for the charges he plead guilty to.