DOVER, Del. — A former Delaware death row inmate who was acquitted of all charges after being retried for a drug-related killing is suing current and former state officials.
In a federal lawsuit filed late last week, Isaiah McCoy claims he was wrongfully and maliciously investigated, prosecuted and incarcerated.
McCoy, who has a long criminal history, also claims state police and prosecutors knew or should have known he was innocent of the 2010 murder of James Munford, but nevertheless investigated and prosecuted him.
McCoy also claims that while imprisoned, he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse and treated “cruelly and inhumanly.”
Defendants include Attorney General Matt Denn, former prosecutor David Favata, state police superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen and former Department of Correction Commissioner Robert Coupe, who now serves as Delaware’s Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security.
McCoy was convicted and sentenced to death in 2012, but Delaware’s Supreme Court ordered a new trial, citing errors by the judge and prosecutor at trial. The Supreme Court also criticized Favata, the prosecutor, for “pervasive unprofessional conduct.”
In January, a Kent County judge declared McCoy, who waived his right to a jury retrial, not guilty.
The judge noted that there was no physical evidence linking McCoy to the crime, and that two alleged accomplices gave contradictory testimony against him.
“With respect to Mr. McCoy’s retrial on murder charges in 2017, the Department of Justice has stated previously that it was disappointed with the outcome of Mr. McCoy’s murder trial, but respected the decision of the court,” Carl Kanefsky, a spokesman for Denn, said in an email Wednesday.
Kanefsky also noted that Favata has not worked for the Department of Justice since March 2015.
Favata’s misconduct included vouching for a prosecution witness, lying to the court and making disparaging and threatening remarks intended to be overheard by McCoy, who was representing himself.
In July 2015, the Supreme Court ordered a six-month suspension for Favata, who had retired three months earlier, and said he would have to establish his rehabilitation before he could practice law again.
“Long before Mr. Munford was killed, defendant Favata vowed to ‘get’ plaintiff McCoy,” attorney Herb Mondros wrote in last week’s 56-page complaint. “Defendant Favata and the other defendants made good on this threat.”
Mondros declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.
The lawsuit also notes that after being suspended by the Supreme Court, Favata wrote in the comments section of a Wilmington newspaper that the justices “didn’t like my ‘Law and Order’ style of prosecuting this pro se drug dealing, murdering street thug/gangster.”
The lawsuit also notes that after McCoy was convicted in 2012, Favata wrote a letter on Department of Justice letterhead to Augustus Evans Jr., another inmate at the prison where McCoy was held, falsely stating McCoy had provided detailed information about the Bloods gang to the Dover police.
“As a result of defendant Favata’s letter to inmate Evans, plaintiff McCoy was assaulted by prison inmates and corrections officers, disciplined, held in solitary confinement and subjected to physical and psychological abuse throughout the period of his incarceration,” the lawsuit claims.