- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
St. Mary’s jurors convicted James Kenneth Clay Jr., 36, on Wednesday afternoon of felony murder in the shooting death last winter of a man at a St. Inigoes mobile home, and the case’s prosecutor said he will seek a sentence for Clay of life in prison without parole.
Jurors also convicted Clay of first-degree burglary and a robbery-conspiracy offense in the Feb. 7 attack on 37-year-old Robert Lee McDowney Sr. at his home off Beachville Road.
As he left the courthouse in Leonardtown after Wednesday’s verdict, St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz (R) said, “This was a home invasion, one of the most fearful types of crimes,” and one that “cries out” for the state’s maximum penalty.
Jurors deliberated the case for about six hours, beginning with almost two hours on Tuesday afternoon after hearing final arguments in the case, and resuming the following morning until after midday.
Clay is the first defendant to stand trial in the case. Andre Lionel Bowman, 31, of Laurel is scheduled to face trial next month on charges including first-degree murder and armed robbery. Joseph William Medley III, a 30-year-old Great Mills resident, also is scheduled to face trial later next month on the same charges.
During Clay’s trial, McDowney’s girlfriend identified Clay as one of two armed intruders who came into the residence demanding money, and said that she heard a “pop” noise as the other culprit, wearing a mask, chased her into a bedroom while demanding money.
Alisha Marshall, 26, testified that the masked man found about $700 in a bedroom closet and some crack cocaine, and that after the two intruders left, she went to a neighbor’s home to call for help for her wounded boyfriend.
The prosecutor contended during the trial that Clay and Bowman, identified by the prosecutor as the masked intruder, got a ride to the trailer in a car driven by Oshia M. Lewis of Hyattsville.
The prosecutor said that Lewis and her two passengers initially met with Medley, who showed them where McDowney lived but did not accompany them to the trailer.
Lewis has not been charged in the case, and she testified this week that although Bowman gave her a “different story” to tell police, she eventually gave detectives a truthful account of what happened when they arrived at her doorstep the week after the shooting.
During his closing argument on Tuesday afternoon, Fritz told the jurors that the three suspects charged in the case did not reveal their robbery scheme until they talked together in Lewis’ car.
“At that point in time, she feels that she is locked in,” the prosecutor said, “and found herself in an extremely bad situation.”
Clay chose in court on Tuesday not to testify in his own defense.
Gerald Riviello, Clay’s public defender, said during his closing argument that there was no physical evidence linking his client to the crime, and the lawyer questioned why robbers would come down from Prince George’s County to steal from a drug dealer in St. Mary’s, and McDowney in particular.
“Is it really about drugs or money, or is it possible that something else is going on?” Riviello asked. “Maybe it’s the perfect set-up. And now Mr. Clay is dragged in as a patsy.”