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Rape trial day 7

Prosecution rests as Conaway’s mother takes stand

Detective questioned about interviews after alleged rape
September 25, 2019

Text messages, photos and videos exchanged between Clay Conaway and his mother during the same time frame that he is accused of committing rape were presented in Sussex County Superior Court Sept. 24.

Taking the stand for the defense, Beth Conaway said she and her husband, Tim, were shopping for a vehicle in Annapolis on June 20, and she was messaging her son, who was at home in Georgetown, about vehicles the couple were considering.

“He loves cars, so we wanted to get his ideas on them, too,” she said.

A printed report of text messages sent between Beth Conaway and her son shows 18 messages exchanged from 6:30 p.m., the approximate time a Millsboro woman said she arrived at Conaway’s apartment, which sits behind his parents’ home, until 7:39 p.m. – about the time she testified she had left.

During that time frame, said the woman, who was 20 at the time of the incident, Conaway raped her after she told him she did not want to have sex with him.

Testifying earlier in the trial, the woman said after leaving Conaway’s house, she went to Beebe Healthcare for a sexual assault examination, and then reported the incident to police.

Beth Conaway said her son told her he had a friend over, but he did not say who it was, noting the friend had watched some of the vehicle videos. The woman also testified earlier that Conaway showed her videos and photos of the vehicles.

Under questioning by Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Anderson, Beth Conaway said the pole barn apartment where her son stayed had cellphone service because the apartment was originally built for her father-in-law when he moved in to live closer to the family.

“We needed to have it for my father-in-law,” she said.

Anderson also questioned Beth Conaway about a gap of about 30 minutes in which there was no communication between Beth Conaway and her son. “There were some gaps,” she said.

During questioning by defense attorney Natalie Woloshin, Beth Conaway testified her two sons often visited Troop 4 where their father had worked for 15 years before retiring in 2008. 

“Our sons grew up there,” she said, describing how they regularly visited their father for lunch and were familiar with the facility.

Beth Conaway also talked about the apartment where her son lived and pointed out the front and back entrances in a sketch of the apartment.

Also taking the stand was Detective David Kristunas, who interviewed the woman twice after the alleged incident, and Conaway after he was indicted on a first-degree rape charge by a grand jury Aug. 20, 2018.

Kristunas testified that the woman’s accounts were blurry in one interview, but in a second interview, she said she had told Conaway she did not want to have sex.

Defense attorney Joe Hurley asked Kristunas why he brought Conaway to Troop 4 for an interview without notifying his parents.

“We chose to take him into custody away from the home,” Kristunas said, adding that officers knew there were weapons in the home, and there was a concern for officer safety.

“My objective was to complete the interview,” Kristunas said.

On Sept. 24, the jury heard testimony from the woman’s mother and her friend Gina Bowen, who continued testifying Sept. 25.

Bowen said the woman had expressed concern about going over to Conaway’s home June 20 because she wasn’t sure she wanted to have sex.

“She was apprehensive because she wasn’t sure if she was looking for a hookup,” Bowen said.

Multiple text messages between the woman and Bowen leading up to the alleged assault, however, indicated that they believed Conaway was only interested in having sex that evening.

The woman’s mother testified that after the June 20 incident, she had never seen her daughter so sore. They went to Beebe Healthcare on June 22, when the woman was diagnosed with hip strain and prescribed over-the-counter ibuprofen.

Before the end of the day Sept. 24, Hurley filed a motion to acquit the first-degree rape charge and substitute a second-degree rape charge, stating the prosecution failed to prove that the woman suffered substantial injury.

Sussex County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes said he will review Delaware case law to determine if there is a definition of substantial injury before he rules on the motion.

After Conaway’s indictment on first-degree rape, six other women accused him of second-degree rape and, in one case, strangulation. In January, a second-degree rape charge was dismissed nolle prosequi in one case, leaving five more possible trials. 

Editor’s note: It is the Cape Gazette’s policy to not publish names of sexual assault victims.