Judge tosses most claims in suit by ex-death row inmate

Isaiah McCoy

DOVER — A federal judge has dismissed most claims in a lawsuit filed by a former Delaware death row inmate who was acquitted of all charges after being retried for a drug-related killing.

Isaiah McCoy claimed in the lawsuit that he was wrongfully and maliciously investigated, prosecuted and incarcerated.

The judge on Tuesday granted motions to dismiss filed on behalf of state police superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen and former Department of Correction Commissioner Robert Coupe, who now serves as Delaware’s Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security.

The judge also dismissed Mr. McCoy’s claims against prosecutors, two police officers, and the former warden of Delaware’s maximum-security prison. But he allowed Mr. McCoy to pursue claims against three correctional officers on allegations that they violated his civil rights by beating, torturing, taunting and otherwise abusing him.

Mr. McCoy, who has a long criminal history, claimed that police and prosecutors knew or should have known he was innocent of the 2010 murder of 30-year-old James Mumford, but nevertheless investigated and prosecuted him. Prosecutors say Mr. Mumford was killed after meeting Mr. McCoy for a drug deal outside a Dover bowling alley.

Mr. McCoy was convicted and sentenced to death in 2012, but Delaware’s Supreme Court ordered a new trial, citing errors by the judge and prosecutor at trial. The Supreme Court also criticized David Favata, the prosecutor, for “pervasive unprofessional conduct.”

Mr. Favata’s misconduct included vouching for a prosecution witness, lying to the court and making disparaging and threatening remarks intended to be overheard by Mr. McCoy, who was representing himself.

Following a retrial, a Kent County judge declared Mr. McCoy, who waived his right to a jury retrial, not guilty on all charges. The judge noted that there was no physical evidence linking Mr. McCoy to the crime, and that two alleged accomplices gave contradictory testimony against him.

After his acquittal in January 2017, Mr. McCoy moved to Hawaii, where he was indicted on federal charges of sex trafficking, child pornography and witness tampering. Prosecutors were forced to drop the charges in 2018 after a federal agent admitted that he had withheld evidence and lied.

Mr. McCoy and an alleged accomplice were charged last year with beating a man in Waikiki and stealing his $20,000 wristwatch. Mr. McCoy was released on bail but later arrested after trying to board a one-way flight to Los Angeles.

Mr. McCoy was released again in December after posting a $100,000 bail bond, but a judge revoked his bail last month after Mr. McCoy failed to comply with conditions of his release. He remains in custody without bail pending a scheduled June trial.