The Chester County District Attorney’s office will seek the death penalty against the ex-convict who allegedly shot and killed a Delaware County man in order to steal his pickup and make his way out west with a girlfriend.
At his formal arraignment at Chester County Prison Thursday, Chandler Gordon Clark, a northeastern Pennsylvania man, was notified of the prosecution’s decision to make the case against him a capital one.
Accompanied by his defense attorney, First Assistant Public Defender Nathan Schenker, Chandler said nothing about the notification and did not enter a formal plea in the matter.
Clark is accused of shooting Andre J. Dupuis of Aston in the back and the neck on a secluded stretch of rural Lees Bridge Road in West Nottingham the night of Aug. 6, while his girlfriend, Melanie Ann Ray, watched. The two planned to hijack the 2006 GMC Sierra Dupuis was driving in order to continue fleeing from arrest warrants issued for them by authorities in Venango and Erie counties.
Dupuis, a 32-year-old landscaper, had met Ray just a few weeks before in Port Deposit, Md. She had called him the night of the shooting to ask him for a place to stay, and he had agreed to take her to his sister’s home in Lancaster County. Ray allegedly told police after the pair’s arrest they targeted Dupuis because he was single and had no children, and thus would not be missed by anyone for some time after his murder, giving them a better chance of getting away.
Both Clark, 20, of Titusville, Crawford County, and Ray, 27, of Venango County are charged with first-, second-, and third-degree murder, as well as conspiracy and robbery of a motor vehicle. Clark, because of his past felony drug possession record, is also charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
Clark was arraigned via video link by an official with the Chester County Court Administrator’s office.
In Pennsylvania, authorities are permitted to seek the death penalty against those defendants charged with first-degree murder only if one of a list of aggravating circumstances is present. In Clark’s case, that factor is the allegation that he committed the murder while committing another felony.
Although Ray did not fire the weapon used in Dupuis’ death, she can be charged with murder as a co-conspirator and accomplice. However, state appellate law prohibits the death penalty from being sought in her case because she did not use the murder weapon.
Ray waived her formal arraignment.
According to the prosecution, Clark made plans with Ray to commit the murder some time prior to Aug. 6. That night, she called Dupuis and told him she had to leave the house in Rising Sun, Md., where she had been staying, and asked him for help. He picked her up along with Clark, whom she identified as her cousin.
As the three drove to Lancaster County, Ray allegedly feigned nausea and Clark asked him to pull over so that she could be sick. When Ray left the truck, Clark asked Dupuis to check on her. When he did, Clark followed him around the back of the truck and pointed a .40-caliber handgun at him.
“It’s nothing personal,” Clark allegedly told Dupuis as he leveled the gun at him. “I just need your keys and your truck.”
Dupuis turned to run back to the cab of his pickup, but Clark shot him in the back. As Dupuis climbed into the driver’s seat and tried to start the truck to escape, Clark shot him again, this time in the neck. The bullet went through Dupuis, exiting his shoulder and continuing through the truck’s front passenger side window, breaking it to pieces. Dupuis died immediately from the two wounds, sometime between 10:45 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Aug. 6. Clark kicked Dupuis’s body into a ravine off the side of the road, where it was found by a passerby the following morning.
Police were able to track Clark and Ray to Indianapolis, where they were taken into custody and allegedly gave confessions to the crime.