A Delaware Superior Court judge has ruled that Clay Conaway, accused on charges of first- and second-degree rape and one count of strangulation, will face six separate trials.
Judge Richard F. Stokes said there is a pattern of repetition in the acts Conaway is charged with, some dating to 2013, but he found there is no common plan or scheme linking all the charges, leading Stokes to conclude the six cases should be tried separately.
“There is a strong possibility that the jury may cumulate the evidence of the various crimes charged and find guilt when, if considered separately, it would not so find,” Stokes wrote in his July 30 opinion. “These cases cannot be tried together.”
Stokes also denied a motion by the prosecution to allow evidence Conaway had interactions with other women, similar to those in the cases that led to charges, to show how he planned his alleged assaults.
Conaway, 23, of Georgetown, faces six counts of second-degree rape, one count of first-degree rape, one count of strangulation and one count of attempted second-degree rape. Conaway has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
A graduate of Sussex Central High School and a former baseball player at University of Delaware, Conaway was arrested in August 2018 on charges of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman. After Conaway’s arrest, other women came forward and additional charges were filed.
“The court will not detail the various episodes,” Stokes wrote. “When the ultimate questions regarding the charged cases are whether the alleged victims had sexual intercourse with defendant and if so, whether they consented to such, then this evidence sought to be introduced is not being introduced for a valid reason. Instead, it is being introduced to show that if defendant raped others, he also raped the alleged victims in this criminal case.”
Stokes also denied a motion by Conaway’s attorney, Joseph Hurley, to dismiss two counts: one count of second-degree rape in September 2013 where he is alleged to have had sex with a girl without her consent, and a second-degree rape charge stemming from a New Year’s Eve party in 2014. The charges were investigated in 2014, but Conaway was not charged until September 2018.
Hurley has argued the delay in prosecution is unfair to Conaway, and that both Conaway and the witnesses will have compromised recollections of events.
Prosecutors argue that while he was not charged at the time, Conaway was interviewed twice with his father, a former state police officer, and attorneys present, and those interviews, along with those of witnesses at the New Year’s party, were recorded and have been shared with defense counsel. Prosecutors also argue the women who have come forward since Conaway was charged in 2018 add context to the 2013-14 incidents, showing a pattern of sexual assault against women.
Finally, Stokes denied a motion brought by the defense seeking an index of material gathered from an old cellphone Conaway owned at the time of the 2013-14 incidents. The defense also requested photographs and communications between Conaway and the women who police say he raped. Prosecutors say they have turned over all this information; Stokes agreed. Stokes said the state has no obligation to sort and index all the materials for the defense.
Conaway has been free on bond since charges were filed; his bond was modified in March to allow him to work for his father’s construction firm. Conaway’s trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Sept. 10, in Georgetown.