The grieving daughter of a murdered Manhattan mother says it’s “a slap in the face” that her mother’s accused killer was allegedly free to kill, even though he broke into the victim’s home and attacked her just months earlier.
Natalie Questa said murder suspect Lenue Moore belonged behind bars after he allegedly forced his way into the family’s Washington Heights apartment, broke her mother’s arm, hit her boyfriend in the head with a hammer and punched her in the face.
But Moore, 31, was released on meager bail in the violent incident – and allegedly returned to the neighborhood about five months later to shoot Jackie Billini, her friend and their pit bull, Zeus, in what police say was a long-term attack that spat over the dog.
“It devastated us,” Questa, 32, said in a recent interview with The Post. “It felt like it was a slap in the face.”
To make matters worse, Billini, 57, was part of the system that failed her, her daughter said – she was a state court analyst in the Bronx.
“My mother believed in the justice system,” Questa said. “But it’s like this: what happened to us in the end? We did everything right. We didn’t retaliate, we didn’t do anything. We’ll let the court system do its job and see what happened to my mother in the end.”
Prosecutors said the killings stemmed from a simmering feud between Billini, Moore and his mother, who lived across the street from the victim’s second-floor apartment on West 163rd Street.
Tensions reached a peak on April 11 when Moore allegedly stalked Billini’s family and kicked in their apartment door, according to a criminal complaint.
“I remember it sounded like a bang, so I thought maybe the dog had knocked something over,” Questa recalls. “And my mother said, ‘No, it’s the door,’ and she went and opened it.”
Moore “told my mom to go outside, and that’s when I told her to call the police,” Questa said.
“And then he kicked the door open. The first time he kicked her, he broke her arm because the door hit her arm. When the second one came, I ran to the door,” she continued.
“My friend came over and tried to help close the door and my friend came over to help us close the door,” she added. “It’s like 80% of his body was in my house.”
The family called police and Moore was arrested at his mother’s apartment.
Moore was charged with burglary and assault, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office requested that he be held on $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond. They argued that the allegations constituted “a serious and violent case,” even though he had no criminal record.
Instead, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Lewis set bail at $5,000 cash or bond – and required Moore to post just 10%, or $500 to get released.
“I said, ‘This is a joke,'” Questa said of the handling of the case.
Lewis also issued a protective order telling Moore to stay away from Billini and her family – but that didn’t stop him from allegedly targeting the mother as she walked with a friend and her dog.
On Sept. 29 — just a day after Moore went on trial on burglary and assault charges — he allegedly killed Billini, her pal Levaughn Harvin and Zeus in a hail of 9mm bullets at the corner of 161st Street and Edgecombe Avenue, according to a criminal complaint.
“He’s the first person that came to mind,” Questa said she thought of Moore after her mother’s murder.
Neighbors told the Post that Billini asked Harvin to walk around the neighborhood with her because she was afraid of Moore after he was released on bail in the brutal break-in.
The accused killer spent nearly a month on the run before he was arrested in Brooklyn on Oct. 26 and sent to Rikers Island without bail.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday for the murders of Billini and Harvin.
Al Baker, spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, defended the judge’s decision in the burglary case, noting that bail is only necessary to ensure a defendant returns to court for future proceedings, which Moore did.
“The criminal court judge followed the law in determining the defendant’s release status,” Baker said in a statement. “The Criminal Court judges have weighed everything in this case to set bail and make the best decisions possible in the interests of justice.”
He added that Billini’s killing was “particularly devastating” because she worked for the court system, but said the judge fulfilled her sworn duty and remained “professional and impartial.”
The Legal Aid Society, which represents Moore, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Questa plans to be in court Tuesday as Moore is charged in the fatal shooting, which she says could have been avoided.
“I felt like they never took us seriously,” she said of the judge and the prosecutor’s office. “I can never get my mother back. I can’t go home and see my mother. You can go home and rest in peace, but I can’t do that. I will never have my mother.”
As for Moore, she said, “I hope he never sees the light of day.”
Additional reporting by Joe Marino