McCoy trial moves forward despite mistrial talk

 

DOVER — Isaiah W. McCoy told a detective he “never shot another human being in my life” during a videotaped interview shortly after a Maryland man’s death in 2010 during an alleged drug deal turned robbery in a bowling alley parking lot.

Asked repeatedly, however, the defendant did not say where he was the night James J. Munford of Salisbury was mortally wounded on May 4, 2010, in the Rodney Village area.

On Thursday, prosecutors presented the interview with Delaware State Police Detective Mark Ryde in its first-degree murder case against 29-year-old Mr. McCoy, arrested less than three weeks after the alleged incident.

Superior Court Judge Robert B. Young watched several minutes of the questions and answers on May 22, 2010, after earlier deciding not to declare a mistrial due to threatening statements Mr. McCoy allegedly made to a correctional officer two days ago.

The state rested its case at just after 2:30 p.m. before the defense called one witness. The trial will resume at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Citing alleged unreliable testimony from two accomplice witnesses and no evidence to confirm their accounts, defense attorney Michael Wiseman moved for an acquittal. Judge Young, who will decide the case from the bench, made no ruling due to still reading through transcripts.

Isaiah McCoy

On Thursday, Judge Young maintained that Rakeisha Williams and Dashaun White clearly “gave staggeringly different descriptions of things at different times” regarding testimony at two trials and statements to investigating police.

Ms. Williams and Mr. White were both convicted on felony charges connected to the alleged incident.

Questioning the charges

In 2010, Mr. McCoy also denied taking the late Mr. Munford’s vehicle after the alleged murder, or kidnapping a potential witness who supposedly brokered a drug deal involving 200 Ecstasy pills, $700 cash and cocaine.

Investigators found that Mr. Munford was shot to death while in his SUV, with Mr. McCoy allegedly triggering a fatal gunshot from a .38 caliber revolver. Police believe Mr. McCoy’s nephew Mr. White drove the duo from the alleged crime scene and abandoned the SUV a short distance away.

Mr. Munford later died from his wounds at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that a gunshot wound to his chest and abdomen caused the homicide, according to testimony on Thursday.

When questioned by Det. Ryde over six years ago, Mr. McCoy described information in a probable cause affidavit to warrant murder and other felony charges as “fictitious” and asked “Where do you come up with all this stuff?”

Informed that acquaintance Ms. Williams implicated Mr. McCoy when telling police of a drug deal and ensuing shots fired at her boyfriend Mr. Munford, the defendant replied, “I can’t believe she said these things.

“… First of all, I thought she was my friend. I don’t know who she was protecting.”

At one point in the interview as Det. Ryde pushed him for his whereabouts at the time of the alleged incident, Mr. McCoy responded there was “no way possible on God’s green earth that someone saw me shoot another human being … I took no one else’s vehicle.”

The detective also told Mr. McCoy that family members had reported seeing Ms. Williams at his home in the nearby 300 block of David Hall Road for at least a couple days after the shooting, and that his mother was paid $20 to drive her to Seaford after that.

The defendant denied involvement with any kidnapping and asked “Are you serious?”

The defense called a Dover man who testified to seeing two men fighting in the bowling alley parking lot on May 4, 2010, followed by hearing gunshots and witnessing a man running from the SUV before collapsing. The man said 911 was called and he tried to perform CPR on Mr. Munford before paramedics arrived.

Another defense witness subpoenaed to testify Thursday could not be located. Next week two DOC prisoners are scheduled to testify, and it was undetermined whether Mr. McCoy would take the stand.

A mother’s anguish

The late Mr. Munford’s mother Juanita Creekmore turned her head away as the videotaped interview played, alternately closing her eyes or looking down at the floor. She said she traveled to the trial from her North Carolina home because “Who wouldn’t?

“That’s all I have to say. Who wouldn’t?”

Juanita Creekmore is attending the trial of Isaiah W. McCoy, accused of shooting her son James Munford to death in 2010. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

During a break, she pointed to puffy eyes and described the emotional anguish of her son’s death over six years ago.

“This needs to end,” she said. “With the evidence they have it needs to end, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t need to take this long.”

The grandmother perked up briefly when speaking of her late son’s five children ages 7 to 19 who she described as accomplished students, athletes, and musicians.

While Mr. Munford may somehow live on through them, Ms. Creekmore said there’s no way to replace her son, a licensed truck driver who helped her with a family cleaning business before his death.

“Every day I waited for that phone call where he’d say ‘You’re the most beautiful mom in the world and I feel so ugly,’ ” she said. “I would get that call the same time every day.

“When Detective Ryde called that day [with the tragic news of James’s death] I thought it was my son.”

Regarding the alleged drug deal with fatal consequences, Ms. Creekmore said, “I wasn’t there so I don’t know anything about that.”

Ms. Creekmore said she cried almost constantly until last year after her son’s death and “I didn’t even realize when I was doing it. The tears were implanted in my face.”

After a conviction in June 2012, the decision against Mr. McCoy was vacated by the Supreme Court due to actions of the trial judge and a prosecuting attorney.

The trial continues

The trial’s fourth day began with Judge Young opting to move forward with the trial despite allegations that Mr. McCoy had verbally threatened an officer and his family during a confrontation in a secured holding area.

Judge Young said he’d been involved in the “rough and tumble” world of trials for almost 50 years and believed he could separate the threats from making an unbiased verdict and possible sentencing order.

Mr. McCoy had requested that the trial moved forward despite the allegations against him, the Court pointed out, and that overcame any potential issues with public perception.

According to Deputy Attorney General Stephen Smith, the state believed Judge Young must recuse himself due to even the perception of possible bias and “four law trained individuals” agree that an appeal is a certainty upon the trial’s conclusion.

Judge Young responded with, “Well, I hope your wrong about that” before the trial continued with Det. Ryde taking the witness stand.

The issue arose after the DOC reported that Mr. McCoy allegedly threatened to rape an officer’s wife and rob from his family upon a release from prison he guaranteed. Mr. McCoy claimed that he predicted having sex with the officer’s spouse because he was the “better man.”

The guard initially ordered a female acquaintance of McCoy’s from an interview room, which prompted a verbal exchange.

Other charges against Mr. McCoy include first-degree robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and second-degree conspiracy.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.