Jury deliberates murder trial verdict
With limited physical and biological evidence, the ver- dict in the case of Raymond Daniel Posey III, accused of murdering a woman in Nanjemoy in 2011, will likely be determined by how much credibility the jury lends the state’s key witnesses, including friends of Posey and two inmates housed with Posey, who said he confessed to the killing, and whether or not Posey’s many communications with witnesses from jail shows a consciousness of guilt.
The jury was still deliber- ating, as of press time Tues- day afternoon.
Prosecutors say Posey, 24, and Darrayl John Wilson, 25, both of Nanjemoy, killed Crystal Keyone Anderson, 29, and dumped her body down a ravine near Purse State Park in what they be- lieve was a drug-related rob- bery, hours after they were seen leaving a party togeth- er. Wilson’s trial is sched- uled to begin Monday.
For months, Anderson’s disappearance was treated as a missing person’s case. Aside from her mother who said Anderson stopped by her Landover home briefly that night, witnesses said they last saw Anderson leaving a Nanjemoy house party with Posey and Wil- son on July 26, 2011.
When an unsuspecting hiker stumbled upon a boot with her leg bone protrud- ing on Jan. 2, 2012 near Purse State Park, it became a homicide, and Det. John Elliot and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office assumed the investigation. In the following days, specialized K-9s combed the marshy area and recovered more bones, a little more than half of Anderson’s skeletal remains, though large portions remained missing.
After nearly four years of investigation, Posey was arrested at his family’s Nanjemoy home, indicted by a grand jury in March 2015, and Wilson was indicted in July 2015. The defendants claimed to have dropped Anderson off in Forestville that night, but Wilson later changed his story, though his statement was never heard by the jury.
As the state saw it, the de- fendants drove Anderson from the party to Prince George’s County, where she picked up PCP from her supplier, a drug she regularly sold and used, be- fore they robbed her, shot her to death, and threw her body over a guardrail, down a steep hill. Posey, they be- lieve, was in part motivated by a $2,000 drug debt owed to Anderson by Posey’s brother, and her attempts to seek him out.
With Judge James West presiding, Posey’s defense team, headed by Kevin Collins and Chase Johnson, contested the allegations brought by assistant state’s attorneys Francis Granados and Jonathan Beattie.
The defense argued that the state became intent on building a case against Posey, rather than conduct- ing an objective investiga- tion, and, because of her high-risk lifestyle as a PCP dealer, that there were sev- eral other suspects who would have had a motive to kill Anderson. The defense also noted the possibility of a drug overdose, as her cause of death could not be determined through autop- sy.
Of the skeletal remains re- covered by police, no signs of injuries were found by medical examiners, court proceedings showed. No murder weapon or any shell casings were ever found.
Rather, the state’s case is largely hinged upon wit- ness statements, including that of two men, friends of Posey’s, who said Posey told them he had killed someone, shortly after Posey tried to commit sui- cide by attempting to hang himself in a neighbor’s yard. What’s more, two inmates who befriended Posey in jail at different times, years apart, testified that Posey told them intimate details of how, and why, he killed Anderson.
The defense argued that the inmate who was housed with Posey in late 2015, ear- ly 2016 could have gotten information from Posey’s discovery paperwork. The other inmate, however, was housed with Posey in late 2012, early 2013, well before he had been indicted for the alleged murder; Posey had been arrested for an unre- lated armed robbery, and detectives were pressing him for information about Anderson’s death while he was in custody, the first time they had been able to find him after she had been reported missing.
To help prove the allega- tions, the state also offered corroborating evidence, such as phone records, including a map depicting Anderson’s and Wilson’s cell phone activity around the time Anderson is believed to have died. Phone records for Posey were unattainable, according to police testimony.
The phone records, pros- ecutors said, would also help verify the recanted statements of Wilson’s longtime girlfriend, who he just recently married in February 2017 while still in custody awaiting his trial. She told a detective in 2014 that Wilson was in an area with hills the day after the al- leged murder, and seemed to be looking for some- thing, picking stuff up, with Posey while she was on the phone with him. During the trial, she claimed her previ- ous statement was a lie, and that she had been mad at Wilson. However, the state said she corroborated one of the inmate’s testimony, that Posey returned to the scene the next day to pick up shell casings.
In addition to testimony consistent with the allega- tions, the jury also heard Posey’s numerous jailhouse calls to witnesses in the case, including his co-defen- dant, his calls to third-par- ties directing them to con- tact witnesses, and letters sent indirectly to witnesses. Posey was also captured on jail surveillance video passing a note intended for Wilson that was recovered by police. In the communi- cations, Posey seemed to offer witnesses thousands of dollars to not testify in his trial, and told Wilson to “stick to the code.”
Posey elected not to testi- fy in the trial.
“The best witness against Raymond Posey in this case is Raymond Posey himself,” Beattie said during closing arguments. “Are those the actions of an innocent man … of someone with nothing to hide, or someone who committed murder and is trying to get away with it?”
Johnson, for the defense, told the jury that the state had not met its burden to prove Posey guilty, that “all you’ve heard in this case is testimony from incarcerated witnesses” with motiva- tion to lie.
He pointed out that one in- mate initially told detectives Anderson had been shot in the head with a .380 caliber handgun, and later said Posey shot her five times in the chest and stomach with a .32 caliber handgun. The inmate “changes [his story] to be consistent with the state’s theory,” Johnson said, adding that 12 ribs of 24 were recovered with no sign of injury.
“There’s a certain cyni- cism about the state’s case,” Johnson continued, as he argued that the state had zeroed in on Posey as their main suspect from the beginning, and used every inference they could to fit their theory. “How cynical is that motive, that theory,” Johnson said, that Posey was willing to kill Anderson to settle his half-brother’s drug debt, someone he was not very close with?
“Why isn’t it equally be- lievable that ‘follow the code’ means tell the truth?” Johnson asked.
“Call me cynical, but selling someone’s clothes be- fore they’re even reported missing is a pretty big red flag to me,” Granados responded, adding that “fol- lowing the code means you don’t talk to police.”
Granados also emphasized that Wilson’s third statement to police “doesn’t have them dropping her off in Forestville,” mentioning Posey’s message to Wilson that he had “stuck with the story.”
“He [Wilson] doesn’t stick to the story in the third version,” Granados added.
Granados pointed to the mapping of Anderon’s cell phone activity. “Her phone’s never in Forestville,” he said. “[Posey’s] story is clearly contradicted by the evidence.”
The prosecutor referred to a witness’ testimony that Wilson and Posey returned her car around 3 or 4 a.m. on July 27, 2011, without Anderson, several hours after they were told to be back. “They were down there in Purse State Park, doing the deed and cleaning up after,” he said.
Granados also said that the phone records show that Wilson was using a cell phone tower near Purse State Park later that afternoon, when the state believes they returned to the scene to pick up shell casings.
“The truth doesn’t stay hidden forever,” Granados told the jury. “Don’t allow it to remain hidden any longer: find him guilty.”
Deliberations resumed Tuesday morning after a verdict could not be reached Friday evening.