Testimony continues in 2015 murder trial
P.G. police officer’s interview with detective viewed by jurors
The prosecutors are continuing to build their case against Richard Travess Conway, a Prince George’s county police officer accused of conspiring with his mother to murder his ex-girlfriend and her husband.
Conway, 27, was ar- rested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder a few days after his mother, Caroline Conway, 52, shot his ex-girlfriend, Krystal Mange, 25, and her husband Robert Mange, 25, at what was supposed to be a custody exchange outside a Wal- dorf McDonald’s in May 2015. Robert died from multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body after trying to grab the gun as they were accosted inside their vehicle, while Krystal was shot once and survived. In December, Caroline Conway, whose defense team claimed she had been experiencing a psychotic dissociative episode at the time, was found guilty and criminally responsible for the act following a two week jury trial.
With Judge Erik Nyce presiding, Charles County State’s Attorney Anthony Covington (D) and assistant state’s attorney Francis Granados were continuing to call witnesses as of press time Tuesday morning. Richard Conway is being represented by defense attorneys C.T. Wilson and
As the state sees it, on May 20, 2015, Richard Conway allegedly dropped off his mother near the McDonald’s on Mall Circle in Waldorf where the Manges were waiting inside their Jeep for Richard to drop off Krystal’s two children in common, according to proceedings. Around 5:45 p.m., Caroline got into the car and at gunpoint forced Krystal Mange to call Richard and change the pickup to the La Plata courthouse at 7:30 p.m. Then, after Robert went for the gun, Caroline shot him several times in the parking lot before turning the gun on Krystal, shooting her once in her side abdomen.
The prosecutors believe Richard was waiting nearby to pick up Caroline after she called him on a pre-paid cell phone he had persuaded a teenager to buy for him. With the kids in the car, the two then went to an old family friend’s house where Caroline changed clothes, and they discarded the phone, clothing, and Richard’s agency-issued handgun into a trash bag, a scene captured by a home surveillance system. After Krystal identifies Caroline Conway as her shooter to first responders, the Conway residence on Guildford Drive was cordoned off by police. Meanwhile, Richard and Caroline went to the courthouse, and tried to contact Krystal. The prosecutors said this was an attempt to live out their alibi. Richard lat- er returned to the home on Guildford Drive and identifies himself and his mother, and both were taken in for questioning.
Det. Jack Austin was called to testify on Monday, testimony that would require the entire day as the jury watched a video of the detective inter- viewing Richard Conway hours after the incident. During the two and a half hour interview, Richard spoke without an attor- ney present and gave conflicting accounts. Richard told Det. Austin that he, Caroline, and the kids had gone to a picnic earlier in the day, then an appointment for his son before returning home.
Around 4:45 p.m., Caroline went on a walk, which she often does, Richard said in the interview.
Around 5:30-5:40 p.m., Richard said he left the house with the children to meet the Manges at the McDonald’s. His mother had not returned yet.
En route, he said he got the call from Krystal about changing the meet up to the courthouse, and after hearing that, he “started driving on back- roads because I was trying to kill some time” and decided to look for his mother because he knew the general area where she likes to walk, and said he found her walking on Copley Avenue.
“You and I both know we’re going to be able to disprove your account … and that’s ultimately going to get you charged,” Austin told Richard in the interview.
“I don’t know what she did. I don’t know what she didn’t do,” Richard said during the interview. “I swear I’m not trying to protect her.”
However, the detective made it clear that he did not believe him. After Austin tells him, “A man is dead … and [she] is clinging onto life,” Richard appears to dry heave into a trash can.
After the detective left the room and came back, Richard admitted to lying about picking her up on Copley Avenue in an at- tempt to protect her, and said he actually picked her up on Old Washington Road, closer to the shooting. He went on to explain that he was scared, and “she wouldn’t even look at me” and “I didn’t ask anything because I didn’t want to know,” and that the call from Krystal gave him an uneasy feeling.
“I know I already [ex- plicit] up with lying,” Richard said. When asked why he lied, he replied, “Because I was try- ing to protect her … I was trying to place her away from the scene … I didn’t ask what happened. I didn’t want to know.”
Richard said they then began “driving around in general … to try to get her mind off what’s bothering her” before the 7:30 p.m. meet up at the court- house. In the courthouse parking lot, he said he then tried to call and text Krystal, and left after wait- ing for about 10 minutes. They stopped at Target so one of the kids could go to the bathroom, he said, and then returned home to find a police perimeter had been formed around his house.
When the detective still did not seem to believe his story, Richard said, “I hate that woman with every fiber of my being, and I hate that man even more,” but I could never wish that on anyone.
At one point the detective pointed out that Caroline had on a yellow shirt when she was arrested, not a black one like Richard had said initially. Richard then explained that she must have had a change of clothes in the car and changed her shirt while he was inside a gas station. He said he didn’t think any- thing of it at the time.
Although the home surveillance footage has not been published yet to the jurors, the prosecutors promised in opening ar- guments that they would see a video that depicts the Conways at an old family friend’s house shortly after the shoot- ing. Prosecutors say Caroline later emerged from the house with a different shirt, and she and Richard are both seen handling a trash bag that they brought inside the car with them, never to be seen again.
During his interview, Richard made no mention of ever stopping by anyone’s house.
The jury also heard testimony from a boy, then 16, who bought the pre-paid cellphone for Richard. He testified that Richard said he needed it for a high level narcotics investigation he was working.
FBI special agent Rich Fenner, an expert witness in historical cellular record analysis, testified that Richard received two phone calls from the pre-paid cell phone within four minutes of the shooting, and presented a map that depicts the general area of each phone and the key locations of the case. The incoming calls lasted 54 seconds and 142 seconds, respectively.
Expert witness Susan Kim, a Maryland State Police firearm and tool mark examiner, testified that the shell casings found at the scene of the McDonald’s match the test firings from Richard’s agency-issued handgun.
The trial is ongoing.