Trial in Dover murder case delayed due to firearms expert’s suspension

Larry Pierce

DOVER — The trial of a man accused in a shooting death nearly nine years ago has been delayed until the spring while prosecutors attempt to replace a suspended firearms expert who examined evidence in the case.

In Superior Court on Wednesday a judge granted the prosecution’s request to reschedule Larry Pierce’s trial from next week to April 30.

The Dover man is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Josue Barclay, 23, in the first block of South Governors Avenue in Dover on April 18, 2009.

The Delaware Department of Justice learned on Jan. 19 that Delaware State Police chief firearms expert Carl Rone had been suspended from duties for undisclosed reasons and would not testify in criminal matters indefinitely. The Office of the Public Defender was then notified.

Deputy Attorney General Stephen R. Welch Jr. told Judge Jeffrey Clark Wednesday that Mr. Rone has reportedly since resigned his position.

Delaware Division of Safety and Homeland Security spokeswoman Wendy Hudson said Wednesday via e-mail she had “no information” on Mr. Rone’s possible departure.

“Normally however we (are) unable to discuss personnel matters,” she wrote.

She copied the response to Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz for any further information, which was not immediately provided.

Judge Clark ordered an expert firearms disclosure be made by March 16.

Mr. Welch said his office is in contact with the state police to secure another expert. Other unrelated cases might be affected as well.

Defense lawyer Lloyd A. Schmid Jr. opposed the continuance.

“We would assert there’s not clear indication that (the expert witness) is unavailable,” he said.

A two-week-trial was ordered for April, though Judge Clark noted that would be extended if needed.

The day began with Mr. Pierce declining to accept a plea offer to manslaughter that would bring two years incarceration, according to the prosecution.

He is currently imprisoned in Virginia on federal charges but was brought to the Kent County Courthouse for his Delaware-related issues. He was held at Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, according to court records.

Deputy Attorneys General Lisa Whitelock and Gregory R. Babowal are also prosecuting the case. Attorney Richard F. Matoni III is defending along with Mr. Schmid.

Delaware Chief Public Defender Brendan O’Neill was notified of Mr. Rone’s suspension on Jan. 19. His office released a statement Wednesday that read:

“Two weeks ago, we received a communication from the Department of Justice about the suspension of firearms examiner Carl Rone.

“We do not know the details or reason for the suspension, but we do have concerns about the impact this may have on pending and past litigation.”

Mr. O’Neill declined further comment on Wednesday.

Mr. Pierce was 33 years old when indicted in August 2017.

Dover Police continued to investigate the alleged crime until securing evidence to bring the indictment.

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