Accused murderer’s lawyer challenges witnesses’ credibility

DOVER — An attorney for Raymond Ward questioned the credibility of upcoming witnesses as a murder trial for a shooting last year opened Tuesday in Superior Court.

Mr. Ward, a Camden-Wyoming resident who pleaded not guilty, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Dequan Dukes at a Dover apartment complex on June 27, 2017. Three other alleged co-conspirators also were indicted on firearm- and attempted robbery-related felonies.

After Deputy Attorney General Jason C. Cohee forecast to the jury that two persons would indicate that Mr. Ward allegedly planned what “was supposed to be an easy robbery” that turned into a “senseless killing,” attorney Zachary A. George suggested in his opening address that their past statements were “riddled with inconsistencies.”

Lisa Wagaman’s case is pending and Gregory Sellers earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and second-degree according to opening statements. While DAG Cohee said Ms. Wagaman has “no deal” with prosecutors, Mr. George countered with “her deal is coming, she knows it and that’s why she’s testifying.”

Raymond Ward

Alleged co-conspirator Brett A. Scott was convicted of second-degree murder last month after a trial where he was accused of trading gunfire with Mr. Dukes at Pine Grove Apartments. Mr. Scott, now awaiting sentencing, was wounded during the exchange, according to earlier testimony.

DAG Cohee described Mr. Ward as the “linchpin in this case. He brought together the players and hatched the plan.”

According to the prosecution, through Ms. Wagaman’s phone, Mr. Ward saw images of Mr. Dukes on social media indicating he was “flashy with his money and drugs. He looked like an easy mark.” The plan included Ms. Wagaman meeting with Mr. Dukes supposedly for sex that was instead a planned robbery, the DAG said.

Eight spent shell casings from one gun were found outside the late man’s vehicle, DAG Cohee said, and five from another firearm presumed to be Dukes’ were found inside. Another casing matching the ones outside was located inside the car, according to investigation.

Sellers would testify to driving alleged co-conspirators to the scene in an Impala, hearing about 15 gunshots and seeing Mr. Ward supposedly pick up a gun as the firing stopped.

Mr. George (joined by defense attorney Thomas D. Donovan) said the defendant was “minding his own business” in Magnolia when arrested by police over 10 days after the reported shooting. A murder weapon was never found, the attorney said, and authorities failed to search three possible locations where Sellers had traveled and it might have been.

Also, Mr. George said, Sellers cleaned Scott’s blood from his vehicle while “hiding evidence.”

The sources of text messages between Ms. Wagaman and Scott’s phone will also be debated, according to attorneys. While the prosecution said Mr. Ward regularly used other people’s phones, the defense said no evidence would shot him “doing the typing.”

Eight men and eight women were selected for the jury on Monday. Judge Jeffrey J. Clark is overseeing the trial. DAG Stephen E. Smith is also prosecuting the case.

Mr. Ward is being held at Howard R. Young Correctional Center in Wilmington.


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