Conway found guilty, criminally responsible for murder, shooting
After deliberating for about 15 hours over the span of three days, the jury found Caroline Con- way guilty and criminal- ly responsible Tuesday morning for shooting two, killing one, during what was supposed to be a cus- tody exchange outside a Waldorf McDonald’s last year.
Conway, 52, of Waldorf was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder for 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.
The defendant’s son, Prince George’s Coun- ty police officer Richard Travess Conway, 27, awaits his trial which has been rescheduled for January. He was arrested and charged with mur- der a few days after the shooting when investiga- tors discovered that he had reportedly conspired with his mother to kill the Manges, motivated by a heated and ongoing cus- tody battle.
“We’re obviously grati- fied that the jury saw the evidence for what it was, and they came back with what we think is the just verdict,” said State’s Attor- ney Anthony Covington (D), “… the fact that she was criminally respon- sible, that she did knew what she was doing.”
Covington commended the work of assistant state’s attorney Francis Granados and spoke highly of the police investigators.
“First and foremost, Fran Granados did a fan- tastic job putting this case together,” Covington said. “Yes, I was a part of the team as well, but trust me, I was along for the ride ... He’s a very talented attor- ney and the county is real- ly lucky to have him in our office.”
“The police in this case, they went to the ends of the earth to find some of the evidence that was crucial, critical to prov- ing this case,” he contin- ued. “I can’t say enough about the job of detective [John] Elliot, who was the lead investigator, de- tective [Chris] Shankster and detective [Jack] Aus- tin in this case. They just did great jobs in making sure all this evidence was found.”
Since the murder weapon was never recovered, two detectives had to drive to Kentucky to recover the test firings from Richard Conway’s service weapon, which had been found in the original fac- tory-sealed packaging, according to proceedings. The unique set of mark- ings on the test firings matched the shell casings recovered from the scene, indicating both had been fired from the same gun. When Richard’s agen- cy-issued handgun was replaced in 2014, his old one was sold and resold multiple times with the test firings from the new gun still inside its case.
Despite the unfavorable verdict, defense attorney James E. Farmer main- tains that Caroline Con- way had been in a psy- chotic state at the time, triggered by the fear that her grandchild was being sexually abused by a friend of the Manges.
“She tried to hold it together for as long as she possibly could, and I absolutely believe that on May 20, 2015, that was the trigger that pushed her over the edge,” he said, “that [individual] … was going to go back and have access to these children, and they had no other way to protect them.”
If he can find a legal way, Farmer said he plans to sue the Virgin- ia Department of Social Services, calling its in- vestigation “fraudulent” and a “sham,” noting that Krystal Mange testified that she had lied to DSS investigators about where she had lived at the time, and a conflict of interest between her mother and a DSS official who knew each other.
“We respect the jury’s decision,” Farmer added, “The jury had a tough de- cision to make … We gave them something to think about.”
Called by the defense last week, Dr. Bethany Brand opined that Car- oline Conway was not criminally responsible due to her compromised mental status at the time of the shooting. Brand, a professor at Towson Uni- versity who specializes in clinical psychology and trauma-related disorders, testified that Conway had been in a “psychotic dis- sociative state” and could not “appreciate the crimi- nality of her conduct.”
In April 2015, a month before the shooting, Caroline Conway had reported her suspicions to author- ities that her grandchil- dren were being sexually abused while in the care of the Manges, according to proceedings. A subsequent criminal investiga- tion and department of social services investigation both yielded no evidence of wrongdoing and were closed with unfounded dispositions. The child of concern made no disclosures during a forensic inter view, nor at a multitude of therapy sessions.
Hours before the shooting on May 20, 2015, the Conways were called by a DSS investigator and learned that the investigation was closed as unfounded, and that is what “triggered” Caroline Conway’s dissociative psychotic episode, Brand opined. Caroline, she explained, had suffered trauma from sexual abuse at the hands of a series of babysitters beginning at age 2 after her father was shot and killed in front of the family’s Chicago apartment.
The state’s rebuttal witness, Dr. Teresa Grant, an expert psychologist and