Rape trial Day 9

Defense attorneys give closing remarks in Conaway trial

Prosecution to offer final arguments before case goes to jury
September 26, 2019

As of the Cape Gazette deadline Sept. 26, defense attorneys finished their closing arguments the first-degree rape trial of Clay Conaway.  Prosecutors are expected to give final arguments Friday, Sept. 27, before the case goes to the jury. 

“This case comes down to what happened June 20 in the defendant’s pole barn,” said Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Anderson. “[The women’s] only mistake was taking the defendant at his word.”

Anderson and Deputy Attorney General Casey Ewart must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Conaway, 23, of Georgetown had sexual intercourse with the woman without her consent and injured her by doing so. Anderson said the woman had severe hip pain the day after the incident, and a doctor diagnosed her with hip strain.

Defense attorney Joe Hurley told the jury to consider credibility when reviewing varying statements the woman gave after the alleged incident.

“How many times did she say she didn’t remember?” he said, adding he counted about 40 times. Hurley also provided a chart which showed different answers provided by the woman regarding details of the incident.

“If you lie about that, what does it do to what else you said?” Hurley asked.

Before closing statements, Sussex County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes instructed the jury that if they do not find Conaway guilty of first-degree rape, they can also consider second-degree rape and fourth-degree rape. In second-degree rape, there is no injury, but sexual intercourse occurred without consent. In fourth-degree rape, a person is guilty if they sexually penetrate someone without their consent. Penetration can be with a body part or object.

Conaway was indicted on first-degree rape in August 2018 after a Millsboro woman, who was 20 at the time, said he had raped her at his Georgetown home.

Attorneys for the state and defense presented their cases over eight days of testimony, including three days on the stand by the accuser, testimony from her mother and Conaway’s mother, text messages and other evidence presented for the jury to review.

Also in evidence was the video recording of Conaway’s interrogation at Delaware State Police Troop 4 after his Aug. 20, 2018 indictment. He was read his Miranda rights, but he chose to speak to a detective about the alleged incident June 20, 2018. On the video, Conaway said the woman never said no or stop; during court testimony, the woman said she did say to stop.

Conaway's defense attorneys had earlier said Conaway would testify, but rested their case Sept. 25, after the prosecution submitted the video recording of Conaway.

The jury soon will decide. The jury of 12 is composed of seven middle-aged white men and two middle-aged white women, as well as two black men and one black woman, who all appear to be in their 20s or 30s.

One of of the middle-aged white male jurors was replaced by a middle-aged white male alternate, leaving three alternates  – two middle-aged white men and one middle-aged white woman.

After Conaway, a former starting pitcher for the University of Delaware, was indicted on first-degree rape, six other women came forward with accusations including second-degree rape and strangulation. One of the second-degree rape charges was dismissed nolle prosequi in January, meaning the case was dropped, leaving as many as five more possible trials against Conaway.

By the end of August 2018, Conaway was no longer listed on the University of Delaware baseball roster; a spokeswoman at the time would not comment any further about his status other than to say Conaway is no longer on campus.

Editor’s note: It is the Cape Gazette’s policy to not publish names of sexual assault victims. This story corrects an earlier version that said the case had gone to the jury.

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