Pierce’s fate in murder trial to be announced this morning

Larry J. Pierce

DOVER — Larry J. Pierce testified to having no involvement in the shooting death of a 23-year-old man roughly 9 1/2 years ago in downtown Dover and no relationships with witnesses called in his trial.

Deputy Attorney General Gregory R. Babowal, however, claimed that the defendant made two crucial mistakes — leaving a shell casing at the scene and holding onto the firearm that discharged it.

This morning at 9, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey J. Clark is scheduled to determine Mr. Pierce’s fate regarding a first-degree murder charge resulting from the death of Josue Barclay in the first block of S. Governors Avenue on April 18, 2009.

Mr. Pierce was arrested within eight days of the alleged incident and pleaded guilty to a possession of a deadly weapon by person prohibited charge. Dover Police continued to investigate Mr. Barclay’s death and accumulated enough evidence to warrant an indictment on July 5, 2016.

A five-day bench trial was spent hearing witnesses recount how the firearm in question was initially purchased and who in law enforcement handled it and a shell casing after the arrest following a brief vehicle pursuit by city police in Dover.

The defense team of attorneys Lloyd A. Schmid and Richard F. Matoni questioned whether a bullet found lodged in a nearby residence could be related to Mr. Barclay’s death, but prosecutors Mr. Babowal and DAG Lisa Whitelock asserted that bullet sizes didn’t match up.

While the prosecution pointed to Mr. Pierce’s cell phone being located in the shooting vicinity the morning of the incident through tower evidence, the defense said that covered a 40-mile circumference and wasn’t reliable, and could span as far as New Jersey or the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Also, the defense questioned supposed discrepancies in photos of shell casing evidence and wondered whether they were even the same cartridge that was tested and presented. Mr. Schmid described former Delaware State Police Firearms Examiner Carl M. Rone as “inept” regarding work-related activities and noted allegedly falsified time sheets and discrepancies he was later indicted for and now faces his own trial.

Regarding chain of custody, Mr. Babowal said, “We brought in almost everyone who touched the shell,” and Mr. Rone’s alleged actions had nothing to do with his work in 2009.

Prosecutors pointed to Mr. Pierce’s supposed comment of “That’s my work” that a witness testified to and described Mr. Pierce’s testimony as “self serving.” Defense counsel had advised Mr. Pierce not to take the stand, but the defendant opted to speak under questioning.

According to the defense, inconsistencies abounded in witness statements to investigating police and continued to change from the beginning through testimony.

Prior to trial, Mr. Pierce declined to take a guilty plea to manslaughter. He’s potentially facing life in prison and has previously been convicted of felonies at the state and federal level, according to testimony.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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