Former death row inmate carries on his fight outside prison walls


Former death row inmate Isaiah W. McCoy leaves Delaware Department of Correction custody on July 19. (Submitted photo/Herbert Mondros)

DOVER — According to a former death row inmate, a former prosecutor’s alleged vendetta was supposedly satisfied with his first-degree murder conviction in 2012.

Until it wasn’t, according to Isaiah W. McCoy, who was later exonerated.

After an overturned guilty verdict and acquittal that followed in a second trial, Mr. McCoy left prison a free man on Jan. 19, 2017 after over six years and eight months incarceration.

In a 56-page civil complaint filed July 28, Mr. McCoy blamed much of his self-described wrongful and malicious prosecution on now-retired Deputy Attorney General R. David Favata, later suspended from practicing law for six months and a day by the Delaware Supreme Court for his conduct at trial.

Arrested after the shooting death of James Munford in a Rodney Village bowling alley parking lot on May 4, 2010, Mr. McCoy was convicted and sentenced to death on Oct. 11, 2012.

The guilty finding allegedly finalized Mr. Favata’s supposed “I will get you the next time” Mr. Favata warning after firearm and drug charges were dropped in a case in 2009, the lawsuit claimed.

According to Mr. McCoy, his entire experiences in the justice system “flow directly from (Mr. Favata’s vendetta.)” Several other Department of Justice, Delaware State Police and Department of Correction employees were sued along with Mr. Favata last week.

Isaiah W. McCoy

When Mr. McCoy represented himself in the first murder trial two years after the alleged vendetta, he faced Mr. Favata again in court and claimed he was verbally harassed, threatened and intimidated during the jury trial that concluded with a guilty finding on June 29, 2012.

At one point, according to the lawsuit, Mr. Favata supposedly threatened to let prison inmates believe Mr. McCoy was a “snitch” by calling a police officer to the witness stand.

According to the action, Mr. Favata denied making the statement, which was allegedly found to be false after a listening prothonotary wrote to Superior Court President Judge William L. Witham Jr. “McCoy was telling the truth.”

Judge Witham reprimanded the prosecutor for his reported conduct and the trial continued.

“Listen, I’m reaching a level which I am very upset [about] [t]he way the prosecution is handling this case,” according to the judge in a trial transcript.

“I don’t appreciate the smart-[expletive] remarks, pardon my French but that’s the way it is [Favata.]

“You’re being disrespectful to the Court as well as to Mr. McCoy and witnesses. Your antics in this trial have been totally disrespectful, in my view, of what properly should happen in a court procedure, particularly a serious matter like this …”

Post-trial actions

After the trial around Aug. 1, 2012, Mr. Favata allegedly wrote to an inmate and reported that “Mr. McCoy had provided detailed information about the Bloods gang to the Dover Police,” the lawsuit claimed. Mr. McCoy denied the allegation.

Mr. McCoy believed the letter put his health and safety at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in peril. The letter supposedly triggered him to be “assaulted by prison inmates and corrections officers, disciplined, held in solitary confinement and subjected to physical and psychological abuse throughout the period of incarceration.”

On Jan. 20, 2015, the Delaware Supreme Court voided Mr. McCoy’s conviction and sent the case back to Delaware Superior Court for a retrial.

The lawsuit cited the Supreme Court’s contention that “[Favata’s] conduct set a tone for the trial that was disturbing and unacceptable and increased the potential that the jury would decide the case by discounting the defendant’s version of events for inappropriate reasons, a factor made even more important given the centrality of witness credibility in the case.

“That conduct was also of a nature calculated to hamper McCoy’s ability to present his defense effectively …”

Part of the lawsuit included a defamation claim regarding an online post allegedly made on a website stating, “Well, suffice it to say the Supreme Court didn’t like my ‘Law and Order’ style of prosecuting this pro se drug dealing, murdering street thug/gangster either, but then again most (if not all) of them never prosecuted one. I’m glad I retired, that’s for sure.”

According to the suit, Mr. Favata’s law license was suspended on July 27, 2015 and he retired with full pension and benefits after the suspension ended. The Supreme Court cited factual findings of seven ethical violations in the Delaware Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct raised by the Board on Professional Responsibility.

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