Why a jury will rehear Wilmington hammer attack, jewelry heist case after mistrial.

Wilmington, DE- January 8, 2024 – A local court has set a new trial date for the man accused of assaulting a Wilmington jewelry store owner with a hammer during a September 2022 robbery.

Later this month, prosecutors will put Calvin Ushery on trial again for the violent heist of the now-defunct Solid Gold Jewelers store on Ninth Street, according to recent court filings.

Court documents also shed some light on why a jury was unconvinced by prosecutors’ first effort to convict Ushery of a raft of changes including robbery and assault tied to the heist. 

After two days of trial in September, a mistrial was declared after jurors were deadlocked in deciding the case. Since then, Ushery’s defense attorney has cited delays in the process in unsuccessfully seeking to have the case dismissed.

The robbery and investigation

Surveillance video of the attack and robbery circulated shortly after the incident but provided few clues as to the identity of the robber. 

The video begins with a man grabbing the owner of the store, who was 68 years old at the time. The video shows the man striking the store owner with a pistol, leaving him on the ground. The robber then places jewelry in a bag, taking several minutes to gather items.

Periodically, the robber returned to the owner of the store and struck him again, including blows with a hammer, prosecutors said. After several minutes of gathering the store’s inventory, the robber appears to use a cloth to wipe surfaces in the store. The intruder wore sunglasses and carried a black backpack.

The jewelry store owner spent four days in the intensive care unit following the attack.

A week after the attack, local pawn shops contacted detectives and reported that a man had come through trying to sell a large amount of jewelry. Surveillance footage depicted a man investigators said matched the robber. 

Later, officers spotted a man matching that description walking on the street and called for backup, prosecutors said. They arrived as he sought to sell jewelry to a woman at a local gas station and Ushery was arrested. 

A ‘hot potato’

At the first trial, a member of the family that owned the store told the jury that jewelry found in Ushery’s possession was among some stolen from the store. 

This appears to be the closest connection prosecutors could make tying Ushery to the robbery. They also had video appearing to show Ushery entering the pawn shops and attempting to sell jewelry the day he was arrested. 

His family member testified in the defense case, telling the jury that Ushery had won the jewelry in a game of dice − testimony prosecutors argued was not credible. 

Beyond that, prosecutors compared the “stocky” build and “unique,” wobbly gait of the assailant to Ushery’s appearance when he entered the pawn shops. Matthew Keating, Ushery’s defense attorney, showed surveillance video from the store to show a stocky officer wobbling when he walked.

Keating told the jury prosecutors were using inferences to show similarities between the attacker and Ushery but didn’t prove they were the same person.

Prosecutors said cellphone location data backed up their theory, while Keating argued the location data showed his client had left the area before the robbery had concluded. 

IN DEPTH: ‘Just inhumane’: Family of man attacked in Wilmington robbery speaks out

Deputy Attorney General Samuel Kenney said a bicycle found in Ushery’s residence after his arrest was the “coup de grâce.” 

Detectives had used surveillance footage from nearby cameras to evidence that the attacker rode to and from the robbery on a dark-colored bicycle, which prosecutors said matched one found in Ushery’s residence following his arrest.

However, Keating pointed out dissimilarities between the bicycle recovered from Ushery’s residence and the one depicted in surveillance footage. He also emphasized how no fingerprints or DNA were found tying Ushery to the scene. 

Prosecutors noted the assailant wiping down parts of the jewelry store as he plundered it. They emphasized that the robber was careful. Keating noted there were portions of the scene touched barehanded, not wiped down and still rendered no connection to his client. 

He also noted that Ushery hadn’t shown such care when in possession of the stolen jewelry, entering both pawn shops without any sort of effort to disguise himself. He pointed out that Ushery was caught with only a portion of the stolen jewelry, as well. 

“Where are the other 1,250 pieces of jewelry?” Keating asked the jury. “The state’s entire prosecution has been essentially hot potato. Mr. Ushery was caught with the potato and that’s it; that’s the case.” 

Click here to view news clip.

TheoOriginal article written by Xerxes Wilson and can be found here.

Arrests

View More in Arrests

Learn More About Jewelers Security Alliance

JSA fulfills its mission of informing and alerting jewelers about crime through frequent E-Mail Crime Alerts and print publications, a website, seminars and consulting activities.

Learn More about JSA

International

View More in International