La Plata, MD – As the defense counsel team of James Farmer and Melvin Allen began presenting witnesses in the first-degree murder trial of Caroline Marie Conway, 53 of Waldorf, Wednesday, Dec. 14, they slowly began building a strategy in an effort to instill reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.
They bought in witness Dr. Bethany Brand who could possibly give the jury probably cause to doubt the state’s growing avalanche of evidence against their client.
Brand testified that she diagnosed Conway with dis-associative psychosis. Brand’s testimony that the defendant’s history of being raped and sexually assaulted as a young child may have triggered a psychotic episode in adulthood. This would have been the result of her fear that her grandson was being sexually molested by the friend of her former daughter-in-law and her husband.
Brand explained that in her opinion, Conway began getting paranoid, was falling apart and not sleeping. “She just snapped,” Brand said.
Family members told her that the defendant continued to wash loads of clothes over and over again repeatedly, even though the clothes didn’t need to be washed. She cleaned incessantly and was running the electric bill of the family home up expeditiously.
That was all well and good until prosecutor Francis Granados got to the witness for cross-examination.
There he began methodically shredding defense arguments one by one. Granados started by getting Brand to admit she had made her diagnosis without the benefit of seeing police reports, and witness statements filed in the case.
Brand said, she ran seven different tests on the defendant and judged her to be suffering from disassociation, saying Conway couldn’t remember anything about what happened at the Rock ‘N’ Roll McDonald’s the afternoon of May 20, 2015, when she shot Krystal Manges and killed Robert Manges.
“She remembered getting into Krystal’s car, but she couldn’t remember anything that happened after that,” the witness stated.
“Would it surprise you to learn that the Conway family has been lying to you about Caroline’s behavior before the shooting?” Granados asked.
“Yes,” Brand replied.
Granados produced electric and water bills from the Conway home in the months leading up to the shooting, revealing that those utilities did not rise uncharacteristically in those months but actually decreased.
Farmer fared better against the state’s expert, Dr. Teresa Grant, who said she disagreed with Brand’s diagnosis, claiming Conway was totally cognizant of her actions when the shooting occurred.
Counsel was able to get Grant to admit that stressors, such as learning that the sex abuse charges were being dismissed against his client’s former daughter-in-law could have been a possible trigger to a psychotic episode on Conway’s part as a result of her own childhood abuse.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16 with jury deliberation expected in the afternoon.This will hopefully end a trial that has enveloped Charles County Circuit Court for two weeks.
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