Judge tosses part of Dover Police interview with murder suspect

Raymond Ward

DOVER — They were former high school basketball teammates whose current relationship was headed to a different kind of court.

While a Dover Police detective volunteered to interview Raymond Ward during a murder investigation last year because of their familiarity, according to a judge’s opinion and order, the defendant later claimed he invoked Miranda rights and the questioning should have stopped.

In Kent County Superior Court Tuesday, a judge deemed that assertion partially correct in a 14-page ruling on an appeal submitted by defense attorneys Thomas D. Donovan and Zachary A. George on June 27.

Everything Mr. Ward said after “Nah bro” can’t be used as the case continues, Judge Jeffrey J. Clark determined.

Mr. Ward is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Dequan Dukes in Dover on June 27, 2017, and scheduled for trial on Aug. 20. Other charges include first-degree attempted robbery, second-degree conspiracy and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. A final case review is set for Tuesday.

At first, however, police properly gained Mr. Ward’s cooperation regarding Miranda, and the judge said part of the interview can be presented. Judge Clark reviewed video and found that the defendant indicated cooperation with a nod when the detective asked “do you understand these rights that I have explained to you?”

Mr. Ward answered “oh yeah” in response to the detective’s question “having these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to me now? Just about what, what, like I said downstairs, about today” according to police, the court order said.

While Judge Clark could not tell in the video what Mr. Ward said, the Court maintained “he responded to the waiver request by leaning back casually, stating something that under the circumstances sounded and appeared in the video to be an affirmative response, and then calmly began answering the detective’s questions.”

The interrogation commenced with the detective talking about “Mr. Ward’s recent marriage and other routine matters,” the Court noted before turning to the defendant arrest. Mr. Ward “readily answered” questions about a firearm police said was found in his home. The defendant claimed he got it for “his protection, and that it had not been used for any murders,” video indicated.

Interview transitions

According to the ruling, when the interview transitioned toward circumstances in the homicide investigation, the detective asked “Well do you want to talk about those situations?” and Mr. Ward answered “No. There’s probably cameras all in here. I know that.”

While Deputy Attorneys General Jason C. Cohee and Stephen E. Smith conceded “that Mr. Ward ambiguously asserted his Miranda rights” twice during the interview.

Mr. Ward answered “Nah bro” after the detective said “You can talk to me to help yourself out,” according to the judge’s review.

The detective testified he took the response “to mean that Mr. Ward did not want to delay talking to the detective because that would not help Mr. Ward’s case,” according to the opinion.

Judge Clark referenced the continued questioning and answer session that was deemed inadmissible to future proceedings. In reviewing audio and video recordings, the Court found that the detective “asked no further clarifying questions” when the second supposed assertion was in question.

Earlier, the detective began to leave the room when Mr. Ward apparently “stopped him and signaled for him to come back,” the order stated. Mr. Ward then asked twice to talk to the detective before saying “I’ll wait until you get back,” according to court documents. The detective responded with “No, I’m good. What’s up?” and Mr. Ward answered “You get my bail down, I’ll talk to you.”

The detective made no promises on bail reduction, the judge found, and then “told Mr. Ward that when he had an attorney he could request to speak with him later, or Mr. Ward could speak to him now to help himself.”

Mr. Ward also responded with “I’m not trying to get quizzed,” the order said the recording showed.

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