Credibility of former firearms expert questioned at hearing

Carl M. Rone

DOVER — In a Tuesday evidentiary hearing in a cold case murder investigation, the defense focused on the professional credibility and integrity of a former Delaware State Police forensic firearms examiner facing an unrelated trial next month for allegedly falsifying his time sheets in 2016 and 2017.

Carl M. Rone signed a two-page immunity agreement before appearing in Superior Court to discuss the handling of a shell casing tied to the 2009 shooting death of Josue Barclay in Dover, which brought the recent indictment Larry J. Pierce on a first-degree murder charge after a seven-year investigation.

Defense attorney Lloyd Schmid provided multiple time sheets and invoices showing Mr. Rone apparently claiming work hours and sick time as a civilian contractor for the DSP while also billing for services with the New York State Police in Albany and a Washington, D.C. laboratory at the same time, along with questions about claiming overtime in Delaware. From the stand, Mr. Rone acknowledged there were multiple “inconsistencies” in his accounting of time worked and mistakes were made.

There was no mention of Mr. Rone in a DSP work log on the April 2008 day that he supposedly received a casing to examine in the Barclay investigation, though the prosecution against Mr. Pierce planned to have a Dover Police detective testify that he could confirm seeing Mr. Rone at the forensic office.

Mr. Schmid also pointed to a Superior Court conviction that was vacated by the Supreme Court that involved questions on the credibility of Mr. Rone’s testimony based on his arrest and indictment.

Said Mr. Rone while defending his 30 years of work, “The errors in my time sheets have nothing to do with my handling of evidence.”

Prior to the hearing, Deputy Attorney General Greg Babowal requested that Judge Jeffrey J. Clark clear the public from the courtroom (only a Delaware State News reporter was in the gallery), maintaining that while he could cite no case law to do so Mr. Rone’s constitutional Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial could potentially be affected if his testimony Tuesday was published. Mr. Rone’s attorney Eugene Mauer told the court that he was “very concerned about my client obviously” and that through newspaper articles reporting information that may never be introduced at his client’s trial, a jury pool could be adversely affected.

Larry J. Pierce

Through his attorney, Mr. Pierce objected to closing the courtroom to all but those participating in the hearing.

Judge Clark called for a recess and returned 30 minutes later with a determination that kept the session open, citing Criminal Rule 56 that proceedings be open for the public’s trust in the system, among other factors, as the rationale. The Court expressed confidence in the process of assuring a fair trial process for Mr. Rone and said there have been “many situations where allegations have come out against a defendant before trial.”

Mr. Rone is scheduled for trial on Oct. 24, according to the Court.

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