Wit­nesses de­tail shoot­ing as mur­der trial con­tin­ues

Woman al­legedly shot grand­chil­dren’s mother over bit­ter cus­tody dis­pute

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com

The state was con­tin­u­ing to present its case as the trial for a woman ac­cused of shoot­ing two peo­ple, killing one, dur­ing what was sup­posed to be a cus­tody ex­change out­side a Wal­dorf McDon­ald’s last year en­tered day four on Thurs­day in Charles County Cir­cuit Court.

Caro­line Marie Conway, 52, of Wal­dorf is charged with first-de­gree mur­der and at­tempted mur­der for al­legedly shoot­ing Robert Mange, 25, and Krys­tal Mange, 25, the mother of her son’s two chil­dren, in May 2015. Robert Mange died soon after at a nearby hospi­tal while Krys­tal sur­vived, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings.

Around 5:45 p.m. on May 20, 2015, deputies of the Charles County Sher- iff’s Of­fice re­sponded to the McDon­ald’s park­ing lot lo­cated on Mall Cir- cle in Wal­dorf and found the two vic­tims suf­fer­ing from gun­shot wounds, court pro­ceed­ings in­di­cated. Caro­line Conway was ar­rested later that night after she had been iden­ti­fied as the shooter by one of the vic­tims.

The de­fen­dant’s son, Prince Ge­orge’s Coun- ty po­lice of­fi­cer Richard Travess Conway, 27, was ar­rested and charged with mur­der a few days after the shoot­ing when in­vesti- ga­tors dis­cov­ered that he had re­port­edly con­spired with his mother to kill the Manges, mo­ti­vated by a heated and on­go­ing cus­tody bat­tle, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties and court pro­ceed­ings. Po­lice said they found sev­eral .40 cal- iber shell cas­ings on the scene which matched the am­mu­ni­tion is­sued by the Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice Depart­ment. Po­lice also found Richard Conway had re­port­edly per­suaded a teenager to pur­chase a pre-paid cell phone on his be­half a few weeks be­fore the shoot­ing, pre­tend­ing he needed it for an un­der­cover nar-

cotics investigation, and said Caro­line used that same cell phone min­utes after the shoot­ing to call Richard to pick her up.

With Judge Steven Platt pre­sid­ing, Charles County State’s At­tor­ney An­thony Cov­ing­ton and as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­ney Fran­cis Grana­dos were con­tin­u­ing to call wit­nesses to the stand as of press time Thurs­day morn­ing. Caro­line Conway is be­ing rep­re­sented by de­fense at­tor­neys James E. Farmer and Melvin Allen Jr.

The shoot­ing, Grana­dos ex­plained in her open­ing ar­gu­ment, was a vi­o­lent cul­mi­na­tion after a long and pro­tracted cus­tody bat­tle be­tween Richard Conway and Krys­tal Mange. In 2013, Krys­tal left Richard and moved to Vir­ginia with their two shared chil­dren, and a visi­ta­tion sched­ule was es­tab­lished, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings. Richard and Caro­line Conway made sev­eral al­le­ga­tions against the Mange cou­ple, start­ing with child ne­glect, then phys­i­cal abuse, and then child sex­ual abuse — un­founded ac­cu­sa­tions made in hope of win­ning sole cus­tody, Grana­dos said.

On May 20, 2015, the Con­ways and Manges were con­tacted by a case worker with the Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices, Grana­dos said, in­form­ing both sides that the agency’s investigation yielded no ev­i­dence or in­di­ca­tion of any wrong­do­ing and that visi­ta­tion was to re­sume that day.

Caro­line Conway went to the meet-up lo­ca­tion at the McDon­ald’s on Mall Cir­cle in Wal­dorf, got into their back­seat and drew a hand­gun, Grana­dos said.

She then forced Krys­tal to call Richard to change the cus­tody ex­change lo­ca­tion to the court­house park­ing lot in La Plata at 7:30 p.m. Grana­dos said the move was an at­tempt to set up an al­ibi for Richard Conway.

After Krys­tal hung up, Robert Mange tried to grab for the gun, Grana- dos said. She be­gan fir­ing the hand­gun, and Robert was shot mul­ti­ple times. Krys­tal tried to run but was shot once in the side of her ab­domen.

Sev­eral wit­nesses who were at McDon­ald’s that day were called to tes­tify. A man eat­ing din­ner near- by at Red Lob­ster said he heard gun­shots, and then saw peo­ple run­ning away from the scene through a win­dow. He said he then saw a woman hold­ing a

hand­gun walk to­ward a wooded area.

A man parked next to the vic­tim’s ve­hi­cle tes­ti­fied that he saw the shoot­ing. He saw a man exit the Jeep next to him and col­lapse, and saw a woman shoot him and then shoot a young wom- an after she placed her bloody hands on his win­dow and asked for help.

One man tes­ti­fied that he later dis­cov­ered his ve­hi­cle had been hit by a stray bul­let, and the frag­ment, found in­side the ve­hi­cle, was later col­lected by po­lice. A dif- fer­ent man tes­ti­fied that his ve­hi­cle had also been struck, and that he found a bul­let hole in the back of his truck.

A 14-year-old girl tes­ti­fied that she wit­nessed the shoot­ing from the back­seat of her par­ent’s car as they drove past McDon­ald’s. She testi- fied that she saw a wom- an wear­ing a sweat­shirt

shoot a man and a wom- an who were try­ing to es­cape from a sil­ver Jeep be­fore walk­ing away.

Mul­ti­ple po­lice of­fi­cers called to tes­tify said that Caro­line Conway was ar­rested later that night as po­lice sur­rounded her res­i­dence in Wal­dorf on Guil­ford Drive. Det. An- drew Sch­wab, who was the su­per­vi­sor on the scene, said that Richard Conway ap­proached an of­fi­cer guard­ing the pe- rime­ter and pointed out that Caro­line Conway was be­hind him in the crowd of by­standers. Richard was de­tained for ques- tion­ing, and Caro­line was ar­rested and in­ter­viewed by de­tec­tives, ac­cord­ing to pro­ceed­ings.

Ka­t­rina Everett, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor for the Isle of Wight Sher­iff’s Of­fice in Vir­ginia, was called to tes- tify re­gard­ing her crim­i­nal investigation into the alle- gations of sex­ual abuse. Everett ex­plained that

Caro­line Conway had ac­cused Krys­tal and Robert Mange and their friend “Mon­tana,” or “Tanda,” of sex­u­ally abus­ing the child by “rub­bing” his pri­vate parts. Her investigation, and the depart­ment of so­cial ser­vices in­vesti- gation, were both closed with an “un­founded dis- po­si­tion.” Everett said she ob­served what ap­peared to be signs of coach­ing when the child was in- ter­viewed in April 2015 at Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal of the King’s Daugh­ters. “[He] was say­ing cer­tain words,” she said, that she didn’t ex­pect a child to say. The child did not re­port any abuse dur­ing the in­ter­view, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

The pros­e­cu­tors played the video of the in­ter­view for the jury. At one point the child said, “Jen­nifer can put mama, Robert and Tan- da in jail all by her­self,” re­fer­ring to Jen­nifer Helms, the child’s ther­a­pist.

Farmer cross-exam- ined Everett and ap­peared to be crit­i­cal of her investigation, im­ply- ing that she had not been thor­ough enough when in­ves­ti­gat­ing Mon­tana’s liv­ing sit­u­a­tion. Everett ex­plained that she ran his name through law en­force­ment data­bases and de­ter­mined he did not live at the res­i­dence with the Manges. Farm- er then played a por­tion of the child’s foren­sic in­ter­view where he in­di­cat- ed that Tanda lived at the home with the Manges.

As of press time Thurs­day morn­ing, the state was still pre­sent­ing its case, and lead de­tec­tive John El­liot was in the process of tes­ti­fy­ing.

The de­fense plans to de­fend Caro­line Conway by ar­gu­ing that she was not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for shoot­ing due to her men­tal state, telling ju­rors that they would hear tes­ti­mony from a doc­tor who would ex­plain how some­one suf­fer­ing from a “psy­chotic dis­so­cia­tive episode” can ap­pear nor­mal. The de­fense at­tor­neys ex­plained in open­ing state­ments that Caro­line Conway had en­dured sex­ual abuse as a child after her fa­ther was mur­dered and she was sep­a­rated from her im­me­di­ate fam­ily at age 2.

The trial is on­go­ing.

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