Ronald A. Gray

Ronald Adrin Gray is an American serial killer whose convictions include four counts of murder, an attempted murder and eight counts of rape. [http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/45781.html Bush approves execution of soldier, first in 50 years] , [http://www.mcclatchydc.com/ McClatchy Newspapers] , 2008-07-28, Accessed 2008-07-28] He grew up in the Liberty City area of Miami, Florida. His crimes were committed in North Carolina while he was stationed at Fort Bragg as a Specialist in the United States Army. [http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1157261.html Bush approves execution of Army private] , [http://www.newsobserver.com The News & Observer] , 2008-07-28, Accessed 2008-07-28]

Early life

Gray was born in Georgia in 1966, and grew up in the Liberty City housing project in Miami. During his court-martial, his mother and sister testified that he had been abused by his stepfather as a child. Colonel David Armitage, a military forensic psychiatrist, also testified that in Gray's early life, he experienced "fairly substantial socioeconomic deprivation, multiple male figures in the home, multiple physical moves, living in substandard poverty conditions, circumstances where the electric lights were turned out by the company because bills were not paid...He had a stepparent at one time who was extremely abusive to his mother and abusive to himself, using belts on him to the point of inflicting injury, drawing blood." [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/opinions/1999Term/93-7001.htm No. 93-7001 United States v. Gray] , [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

Gray joined the army at the and was assigned to the Target Acquisition Battery, 1-39 Field Artillery. At the time of his arrest, he was stationed at Fort Bragg as a cook assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery, and held the rank of Specialist.

Crimes

On December 15, 1986, he abducted, raped, sodomized, and murdered Private Laura Lee Vickery-Clay, age 18. On January 3, 1987, he raped and attempted to murder Private Mary Ann Lang Nameth, age 20. Three days later, on January 6, he raped, sodomized, robbed, and murdered civilian Kimberly Ann Ruggles, age 23. [http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2000/0responses/2000-0607.resp.html No. 00-607 Gray v. United States] , [http://www.usdoj.gov United States Department of Justice] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

The first victim, Private Vickery-Clay, disappeared from Fort Bragg on December 15, 1986. On that date, two witnesses saw her at a local K-Mart with a man later identified as Gray. Vickery-Clay's car, found the next morning a block from her home, appeared to have been driven through the woods, and the driver's seat was set back farther than needed for Vickery-Clay to drive. Three fingerprints that matched Gray's prints were found on the hood of the car. On January 17, 1987, another soldier discovered Vickery-Clay's half-naked, decomposed body in the woods in Fort Bragg. She had been raped, sodomized, and shot in the neck, forehead, chest, and back of the head. She had also suffered blunt force trauma to various parts of her body. The murder weapon - a .22 caliber pistol that Gray had stolen in November 1986 - was found approximately 60 feet from Vickery-Clay's body. [http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2000/0responses/2000-0607.resp.html No. 00-607 Gray v. United States] , [http://www.usdoj.gov United States Department of Justice] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

On January 3, 1987, Gray entered the barracks room of Private Mary Ann Lang Nameth under the pretense that he needed to use the bathroom. Once in the room, Gray grabbed Nameth, held a knife to her throat, and asked for her military field gear. Gray then tied Nameth's hands behind her back with the cord from a curling iron, removed her underclothing, and raped her. Gray then stabbed her repeatedly in the neck and side and threatened to return and kill her if she screamed. Nameth suffered a lacerated trachea and a collapsed or punctured lung, though she didn't die. When, shortly thereafter, Gray's photograph appeared in the newspapers and on television following his arrest for another crime, Nameth identified him as her assailant. [http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2000/0responses/2000-0607.resp.html No. 00-607 Gray v. United States] , [http://www.usdoj.gov United States Department of Justice] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

In the evening of January 6, 1987, Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a local taxi driver, was dispatched to pick up a passenger named "Ron" at Gray's address. In the early morning hours of January 7, military police officers on routine patrol discovered Ruggles' empty taxicab parked at the edge of some woods. Her nude body was discovered a short distance away. She had been raped, sodomized, beaten, and stabbed seven times. Ruggles' mouth was gagged with a cloth belt that matched a pair of black karate pants that other police officers had found in Gray's possession just hours earlier. Gray's fingerprints were found on the interior door handle of Ruggles' taxi, and Ruggles' fingerprints were found on money in Gray's possession. Gray's footprints were also found at the scene of the crime. [http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2000/0responses/2000-0607.resp.html No. 00-607 Gray v. United States] , [http://www.usdoj.gov United States Department of Justice] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

Arrest, trial and conviction

On August 7, 1987, Gray was charged with two counts of murder (of Ruggles and Vickery-Clay) and two counts of attempted murder on a military reservation.

On November 5 1987, Gray pled guilty in Cumberland County Superior Court in North Carolina to 22 felonies: two counts of second degree murder, two counts of first degree burglary, five counts of first degree rape, five counts of first degree sexual offense, attempted first degree rape, three counts of second degree kidnapping, two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, and inflicting serious injury. He was sentenced to three consecutive and five concurrent terms of life imprisonment for those crimes.

Gray was also tried by a military court. The general court-martial lasted from December 1987 until April 1988 and was composed of officer and enlisted members at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In April 1988, Gray was convicted of 14 charges, including the premeditated murders of Ruggles and Vickery-Clay, the attempted premeditated murder of Lang Nameth, three rapes, two robberies, and two counts of forcible sodomy. On April 12, 1988, he was unanimously sentenced to death. He was additionally sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, total forfeitures and reduction to Private E-1. On July 29, 1988, the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division approved the sentence. [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/opinions/1999Term/93-7001.htm No. 93-7001 United States v. Gray] , [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces] , Accessed 2008-07-29] Gray was 22 at the time of his sentencing.

As of July 2008, Gray remains on death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On July 28, 2008, President George W. Bush approved Gray's execution, making Gray the first military serviceman sentenced to death since 1957.

Appeals

Immediately following Gray's court-martial, the records of the trial were forwarded to Defense Appellate Division and received by that organization on August 8, 1988. Counsel filed initial pleadings with the Court of Military Review, on September 15, 1989. On February 13, 1990, that court ordered a sanity board, which, on June 30, 1990, found that Gray was responsible at the time of the offense and that he was competent to understand his trial and the present appellate proceedings. On July 20, 1990, the Government Appellate Division answered Gray’s assignment of errors. [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/opinions/1999Term/93-7001.htm No. 93-7001 United States v. Gray] , [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

On December 27, 1990, Gray filed a motion with the Court of Military Review requesting that court to order the Government to provide $15,000.00 for an expert psychiatrist, a death-penalty-qualified attorney, and an investigator. Oral arguments were heard on the motion in January 1991. On March 12, 1991, the Court of Military Review denied the motion. 32 MJ 730. Gray renewed the request for a psychiatrist and an investigator on August 7, 1991, but the Court of Military Review denied it on August 23, 1991. On September 12, 1991, Gray filed a writ-appeal petition requesting that this Court order the Government to provide $10,000 and an emergency stay of the proceedings before the Court of Military Review. On October 18, 1991, this Court denied the writ-appeal petition and the stay application. [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/opinions/1999Term/93-7001.htm No. 93-7001 United States v. Gray] , [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

On December 16, 1991, Gray filed a motion with the Court of Military Review requesting that court to order additional medical and neuropsychological tests be performed by military authorities. On December 31, 1991, that court granted Gray’s request and ordered a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of the brain; a 20-channel scalp electrode, sleep-deprived EEG; and a SPECT scan of his brain, as well as intellectual, neuropsychological, academic, psychological, and personality tests. On February 18, 1992, a report based on these tests was completed by Fred H. Brown, Jr., Captain, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist from Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg. He later opined in an affidavit filed with the appellate court below that Gray was sane at the time of the offense and during these proceedings. On March 9, 1992, counsel filed a petition for new trial based on newly discovered evidence of lack of mental responsibility. [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/opinions/1999Term/93-7001.htm No. 93-7001 United States v. Gray] , [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

On February 26, 1992, Gray filed a supplementary assignment of errors, to which the Government responded on March 27, 1992. The Court of Military Review heard oral argument on April 8, 1992, and on December 15, 1992, denied the petition for new trial and affirmed the findings and sentence. On December 30, 1992, Gray filed a motion renewing his request for funds for an expert investigator and a behavioral neurologist. Gray filed a petition for reconsideration of this decision on January 4, 1993. The Court of Military Review heard oral arguments on the motion for funding on January 21, 1993, and denied the motion for funding and the petition for reconsideration on January 22, 1993. On February 11, 1993, Gray filed a motion and suggestion for reconsideration by the court sitting en banc of the denial of funding, and a motion and suggestion for reconsideration by the court sitting en banc of the decision of December 15, 1992. On March 11, 1993, the court denied both motions and the suggestions for reconsideration en banc, but granted a motion allowing Gray to file a supplemental assignment of errors (XXVIII-LVI). The Government answered this assignment of errors on April 12, 1993. On June 9, 1993, the Court of Military Review again affirmed the findings and sentence. Gray filed a motion for reconsideration on June 28, 1993, which the court denied on June 30, 1993. [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov/opinions/1999Term/93-7001.htm No. 93-7001 United States v. Gray] , [http://www.armfor.uscourts.gov U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces] , Accessed 2008-07-29]

On July 28 2008, President Bush approved Gray's execution. A member of the United States armed forces cannot be executed until the president approves the death sentence. Dwight Eisenhower was the last American president before Bush to approve the death penalty for a member of the Armed Forces convicted in courts-martial, having approved the execution of John A. Bennett, in 1957. Bennett was hanged in 1961 for the rape and attempted murder of an unidentified 11-year-old Austrian girl.

References

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article4420492.ece - An article of George W. Bush's approval of the execution


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