Exonerated death row inmate charged with sex trafficking


January 10, 2018

A man who was exonerated from Delaware’s death row has now been jailed on prostitution charges in Hawaii and on federal sex trafficking charges. 

Isaiah McCoy was arrested by Honolulu police on Jan. 3 and charged with two counts of promoting prostitution and one count of criminal contempt. He was indicted in a separate federal case on Jan. 4 and charged with sex trafficking by force.

McCoy’s federal indictment charges that between Dec. 22-26 in Hawaii, McCoy and Tawana Roberts through force and threats “recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, maintained, patronized, and solicited” an adult woman into a commercial sex act.

McCoy was ordered to be held in custody pending a detention hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday. McCoy moved to Hawaii after he was freed.

McCoy was convicted of shooting a Maryland man in 2010 and was initially sentenced to death. He spent nearly seven years in prison before being found not guilty during a second trial.

McCoy was accused of shooting 30-year-old James Munford in 2010 during a drug deal in the rear parking lot of the Rodney Village Bowling Alley. The deal supposedly was for 200 ecstasy pills and crack cocaine, but prosecutors said he pulled a gun and killed Munford.

He was found guilty in June 2012, but his conviction and death sentence were overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court.

The Court found the Superior Court erred by denying McCoy’s challenge to strike a potential juror. McCoy had struck more than a dozen white potential jurors. The judge and prosecutor believes this was a race-based decision, which is impermissible, though McCoy said it was not.

The Court also said the prosecutor made errors by improperly vouching for the credibility of a state witness and cited overall unprofessional conduct during the proceedings.

McCoy faced a retrial in January 2017, and the state offered him the opportunity to plead guilty to manslaughter and a weapons charge, which would have carried a sentence of five to 50 years in prison. McCoy refused, claiming he was innocent.

A judge found him not guilty, and McCoy went free.

“I just want to say to all those out there going through the same thing I’m going through ‘keep faith, keep fighting,” McCoy said. “Two years ago, I was on death row. At 25, I was given a death sentence – and I am today alive and well and kicking and a free man.”

McCoy brought a Delaware teen, 18-year-old Jordan Smith, to Hawaii for what he called “a fresh start.” But in September, Honolulu police arrested Smith on charges including murder in connection with a shooting outside a club in Waikiki.

Jordan, whose bail was set at $1 million, is scheduled to be tried on Feb. 12, according to Hawaii’s electronic court records.

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