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Isaiah McCoy

Other Delaware Cases
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On May 4, 2010, 30-year-old James Munford Jr., was fatally shot outside the Rodney Village Bowling Center in Dover, Delaware.

Nineteen days later, on May 23, police arrested 22-year-old Isaiah McCoy and charged him with capital murder, armed robbery, conspiracy, illegal use of a firearm and theft of a vehicle.

He was implicated by Rekeisha Williams, Munford’s girlfriend, who also was charged with the murder, as was Dashaun White, who was McCoy’s 19-year-old nephew. Police found Williams's driver's license in Munford's car after the shooting and after first denying involvement, eventually, she said that McCoy and White were involved.

White and Williams pled guilty to lesser charges and testified against McCoy. White pled guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy and was sentenced to 18 years. Williams pled guilty to conspiracy and impeding an investigation in return for a sentence of probation.

McCoy went to trial in Kent County Superior Court in May 2012. The prosecution’s case relied primarily on the testimony of White and Williams. In addition, a security video at the bowling alley showed two men—neither of whom could be identified—chasing Munford and firing shots at him.

Williams testified that she set up a drug deal between McCoy, with whom she was acquainted, and Munford, her boyfriend. Munford was to sell McCoy 200 Ecstasy pills for $750 and two grams of cocaine during a meeting in the bowling alley parking lot. White testified that he was present only because McCoy invited him to accompany him to buy clothing.

Williams testified that Munford was behind the wheel of his Chevrolet Suburban and she was in the front passenger seat when McCoy and White approached. She said McCoy got into the back seat and White remained outside. Williams testified that McCoy drew a handgun and then granted her request to leave the vehicle.

White testified that McCoy then ordered him to get in the front seat. But before he could get there, Munford attempted to escape and McCoy shot him. Munford managed to get up and run as McCoy kept firing but missing. Munford later died at a hospital from the single bullet wound. He had $700 in his pocket.

White testified that he and McCoy drove Munford’s Suburban to an abandoned house where they left it, after wiping it down for fingerprints. They then walked to McCoy’s mother’s home where they lived. White said he and McCoy burned their clothing in the backyard.

Williams said that McCoy sent his sister to pick her up and bring her to the McCoy home where she was kept against her will.

McCoy, who represented himself at the trial with a defense lawyer acting as standby counsel, testified on his own behalf. He denied being at the bowling alley or being involved in the crime.

He told the jury that earlier in the day of the shooting, he had purchased the Ecstasy pills from Munford. He said he believed that Williams and White had conspired to frame him because they were in a covert sexual relationship and that White had killed Munford so they could be together. McCoy told the jury that White confessed to him that he killed Munford.

McCoy’s sister testified that White had admitted to her that he had “bagged a body,” but that he did not say anything further. She also said that Williams was not held against her will at the home and that she ate, asked for cigarettes and watched television with the family.

There was little physical forensic evidence supporting either the prosecution’s or McCoy’s theory of the case. DNA swabs taken from Munford’s vehicle did not match Munford, McCoy or White. Fingerprints from the vehicle also did not match McCoy or White. The gun was never found. The prosecution did present burned clothing that had been recovered from the back yard of the McCoy home, but there was no evidence connecting it to the clothing worn by White or McCoy on the day of the crime.

The prosecution showed a security video from the bowling alley, which showed two men approach Munford’s vehicle. A man (believed to be Munford) got out of the vehicle and struggled with one of them, before fleeing on foot. The video, however, had gaps because it was motion-activated and its quality was too poor to recognize anyone.

A witness testified that she was walking in the area at the time of the shooting and saw two men approaching the Suburban. Neither of them was McCoy, she said. She identified a hat that was found in the McCoy home as similar to a hat worn by one of the two men.

On June 29, 2012, the jury convicted McCoy of capital murder, conspiracy, armed robbery and illegal use of a firearm. He was acquitted of the vehicle theft charge. McCoy was sentenced to death.

In January 2015, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial. The court held that the trial judge had erroneously refused to grant McCoy’s request to excuse a juror during jury selection. The court also ruled that the prosecutor had engaged in numerous acts of misconduct during the trial—much of it in the form of ridicule aimed at McCoy because he was representing himself. The specific misconduct that that was the ground for reversal, however, was the prosecutor’s vouching for the credibility of a prosecution witness.

“Rather than ensure that justice be done, in accordance with the duties of a minister of justice,” the court said, “the prosecutor in this case seemed to work to prevent McCoy from defending himself properly.”

While the case was pending a retrial, the state Supreme Court took the additional step of suspending the prosecutor, R. David Favata, for six months for his misconduct in McCoy’s trial.

McCoy went to trial a second time in January 2017, represented by attorneys Michael Wiseman and Herb Mondros, and chose to have the judge decide the case without a jury.

The defense lawyers introduced, for the first time, a report of a police radio broadcast based on an account from a witness who saw two men running from Munford’s Suburban after it was left at the abandoned home. The witness said the two men who left the vehicle were short. McCoy and White are both about 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet tall.

In addition, the defense presented evidence that White admitted that he lied at the first trial when he said he thought he was going to buy clothing. On cross examination, he admitted that he told a parole board during a clemency hearing that was not going to buy clothing, but to buy drugs.

On January 19, 2017, Kent County Superior Court Judge Robert B. Young acquitted McCoy and he was released.

In July 2017, McCoy filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for his wrongful conviction.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/3/2017
Last Updated: 8/10/2017
State:Delaware
County:Kent
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Robbery, Illegal Use of a Weapon, Conspiracy
Reported Crime Date:2010
Convicted:2012
Exonerated:2017
Sentence:Death
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:22
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No