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Jury pool dismissed in Conaway rape trial

Potential jurors discussed case before selection
September 10, 2019

About 100 prospective jurors were dismissed Sept. 10 during the first day of jury selection for the rape trial of a Georgetown man. The trial is the first of six expected against Clay Conaway, 23.

Jury selection was underway when Sussex County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes, prosecutors and defense attorneys learned that one potential juror openly spoke about the case with other potential jurors before entering the court room, and more than a dozen others overheard.

“Nobody is to talk about the case, period,” Stokes said, after calling the juror up front and asking anyone if they spoke with him or overheard what he said.

More than a dozen raised their hands that they had, and after they were questioned, the entire jury pool was dismissed. Jury selection will resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Sussex County Superior Court with a new jury pool.

State prosecutor Casey Ewart declined to comment on what was said. So did Conaway's defense attorney Joseph Hurley, who gave only a general description of what occurred.

“There was a procedural default with the jury,” Hurley said. “There are certain restrictions that prospective jurors are supposed to follow.”

Shortly before jury selection, a bespectacled Conaway arrived to court in a tailored blue suit flanked by attorney Natalie Woloshin and Hurley.

Conaway is facing first-degree rape after a woman said he forced her to have intercourse with her in June 2018 while at his Georgetown home. After a grand jury two months later indicted Conaway on first-degree rape, six other woman stepped forward leading to more charges that included second-degree rape, attempted second-degree rape and strangulation. Two second-degree rape charges date back to 2013 and 2014, while other incidents reportedly happened in 2018.

In a July Memorandum Opinion, Stokes ruled that there will be six separate trials against Conaway, despite the state's effort to hold one trial.