Murder Conviction Leads to Life in Prison

A 23-year-old Wilmington man was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 17 years, for a 2012 murder in the Southbridge section of Wilmington. In May 2012, Reuel Ray shot 21-year-old Craig Melancon of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the 700 block of Townsend Place during a robbery attempt. Ray, convicted by a jury in January 2015, was sentenced by Judge Andrea Rocanelli to life in prison for Murder First Degree, then an additional 17 years for two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Attempted Robbery First Degree, two counts of Criminal Solicitation, and one count of Conspiracy Second Degree. Deputy Attorneys General Eric Zubrow and Colleen Norris secured the sentence.

Prison sentences for others facing murder and weapons charges.  

A 28-year-old Wilmington man faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to Attempted Murder First Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. Deputy Attorneys General Dan McBride and Michael DegliObizzi secured the plea from Thomas Rivers. Responding to a call of shots being fired in April 2015, Wilmington Police found a man who had been shot several times, lying in the 300 block of West 7th Street. Rivers, who will be sentenced in September, was arrested a few days later during a traffic stop. DAGs McBride and DegliObizzi were assisted by Detective Joseph Bucksner of the Wilmington Police Department, the chief investigating officer on the case.

Deputy Attorneys General Melanie Withers and Casey Ewart secured a 25-year prison term for Jason Gallaway, 37, of Seaford. In December 2010, Gallaway claimed his infant daughter fell off of his lap and accidentally hit her head, causing injuries leading to her death. Gallaway was convicted of Murder by Abuse in the First Degree in 2012 and was given a life sentence. The DE Supreme Court affirmed this conviction but a Superior Court judge later overturned the conviction during a post-conviction appeal in which Gallaway alleged inadequacies in his trial representation. Specifically, Gallaway argued that he was given inadequate funds to retain a medical expert for the trial and the Superior Court agreed. While awaiting a new trial, Gallaway pled guilty to Murder by Abuse First Degree and was sentenced by Judge Richard Stokes.

Deputy Attorneys General Joseph Grubb and John Taylor secured a conviction after a two-day trial for Isaiah Palmer, 25, of Wilmington. In November 2015, officers from Operation Safe Streets executed a search warrant in Palmer’s home and found weapons, ammunition, and over 20 grams of heroin. Palmer, prohibited from having a gun because of a previous felony conviction, was found guilty of Aggravated Possession of Heroin, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, and Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited. Palmer is a habitual offender and scheduled for sentencing in September.

Deputy Attorneys General Matthew Frawley and Jan van Amerongen obtained a prison sentence for Marvin Swanson, 22, of Wilmington for Manslaughter and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. In December 2014, Swanson shot 43-year-old Derrick Caudle of Wilmington after the two got in to an argument in the 700 block of Vandever Avenue. Witnesses reported that Swanson and Caudle were arguing about a previous drug transaction between the two, leading Caudle to punch Swanson in the face. After stumbling backward, Swanson pulled a gun and shot Caudle once in the abdomen. Judge Andrea Rocanelli sentenced Swanson to a total of eight years in prison, followed by six months at Level IV, then two years of Level III probation.

Deputy Attorneys General Matthew Frawley and Patrick Smith secured guilty pleas in a home invasion case against James McCardell, 40, of Colora, Maryland, and Brian Richardson, 31, of Philadelphia, PA. In December 2015, McCardell broke into a home on Salem Church Road in Newark, holding the family that lived there at gunpoint while robbing the home. Approximately one week later, McCardell returned to the home, this time with Richardson, where the two broke in and committed another armed home invasion. Prior to McCardell and Richardson gaining entry to the home, residents called 9-1-1, and a Delaware State Trooper responded to the residence. Unaware that the home invasion was still in progress, the trooper entered the home, and once inside, turned to find McCardell aiming a gun at him. The Trooper fired, shooting McCardell in the abdomen. McCardell pled guilty to two counts of Home Invasion, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Robbery First Degree, and Conspiracy Second Degree. He is facing a minimum mandatory sentence of 22 years in prison. Richardson pled guilty to Home Invasion, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Wearing a Disguise During the Commission of a Felony, and Conspiracy Second Degree. Richardson faces a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence. A subsequent investigation by the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust found the use of deadly force by the Trooper involved was justified.


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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at

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