A New Castle County grand jury has indicted six defendants in five homicide cases from incidents over a five year period. Delaware’s Department of Justice said it’s the most indictments for homicide cases in one single day it can recall.
The cases include three 2015 murders, one 2014 murder and a cold case from 2010, the department announced Wednesday.
The most recent incidents include the death of Thomas Cottingham, who died protecting a woman in Wilmington in September, and the death of Benjamin Rauf, who was found with gunshot wounds in his car in Hockessin in August.
“Justice is being pursued in all five of these cases—some from this year and some older—because of the unending efforts of our prosecutors and of the police agencies that serve these communities,” said Attorney General Matt Denn in a statement. “Their tireless efforts go a long way to help make our neighborhoods, cities and state safer.”
Calvin Hooker, 25, of Wilmington, is charged with stabbing Thomas Cottingham to death in Wilmington in September. Hooker allegedly killed Cottingham when he stepped in to protect a woman Hooker confronted along Market Street.
Hooker was indicted for first degree murder, two counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of resisting arrest, carrying a concealed deadly weapon and aggravated menacing.
Benjamin Rauf, 26, of New York, was arrested in connection with the August killing of Shazim Uppal, who was found dead after being shot multiple times while sitting in his parked car in Hockessin. Rauf was indicted on two counts of first degree murder, possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and first degree robbery.
Hakiem Anderson, 31, of Wilmington, allegedly shot and killed Markevis Clark on Vandever Avenue in Wilmington in August after a brief argument. Anderson was indicted on charges of first degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited in the fourth case.
The 2010 cold case was solved by the Wilmington Police Department’s Cold Case Unit and the Department of Justice Homicide Unit. The Department of Justice said Erik McNeely, 45, of Newark fired three shots that killed Abel Flores during an argument on South Franklin Street in May 2010.
The case was solved with the help and cooperation of witnesses, said Ipek Medford, Department of Justice homicide unit head and deputy attorney general.
“We need our community to help us piece together cases,” he said in a statement. “This case is an example that we need witnesses to tell what happened and bring justice, and not just forensic evidence like TV shows might have the public believe.”
Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings said he appreciates the agencies’ determination to solve the case.
“We will continue to work with the Department of Justice to bring cases like this to closure for the families of homicide victims,” he said in a statement.
Isaac LeCompte, 22, of New Castle, and Jyaire Smith, 20, of Georgetown, Md. were indicted in connection with the death of Ira Hopkins in July 2014. The Department of Justice said Hopkins was celebrating his birthday outside his Newark home when LeCompte and Smith approached the party and fired several shots that killed Hopkins and injured one of his friends.
LeCompte and Smith face two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted murder, seven counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, four counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy and one count of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, according to the Department of Justice.
Col. Elmer Setting, Chief of the New Castle County Police Department, attributes solving the case to key evidence, interviews and the hard work of his detectives.
“If you commit murder in New Castle County, regardless of the length of time that has passed, our detectives and cold case investigators will remain relentless until they arrest those responsible for these heinous acts and hold them accountable for their actions,” he said in a statement.