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Governor won’t stop Ricky Gray execution; lawyers file emergency request to Supreme Court

Posted at 2:01 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 20:01:39-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday he had no intention of stopping Ricky Gray's execution. Gray’s execution is scheduled for Wednesday, January 18.

"After a thorough review of the petition for clemency submitted by Ricky Gray and the various letters submitted by other parties, I have decided not to intervene in this case," Governor McAuliffe said in a statement. "Mr. Gray was convicted in a fair and impartial trial, and a jury sentenced him to death in accordance with Virginia law. Federal and state appellate courts have extensively reviewed his case and denied his requested relief.

"Unless a court intervenes, the Department of Corrections will carry out the execution in accordance with the order of the sentencing court.

"It is the Governor’s responsibility to ensure that the laws of the Commonwealth are properly carried out unless circumstances merit a stay or commutation of the sentence. After extensive review and deliberation, I have found no such circumstances.

I will continue to pray for all of the individuals and families affected by these tragic and horrible crimes."

Attorneys for Gray have filed an emergency application for a stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The emergency application states that the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) plans to carry out Wednesday’s scheduled execution using an “experimental and unconstitutional method of execution” and asks the U.S. Supreme Court “to intervene to preserve its jurisdiction to review the merits of [Mr. Gray’s] claims and to prevent Respondents from achieving their goal of ‘running out the clock’ by executing Mr. Gray using the very method of execution Mr. Gray alleges is unconstitutional and which is currently under review in the federal courts.”

CBS 6 legal expert Todd Stone said an appeal to the Supreme Court is going to take some time, something is no longer has as his execution is scheduled for Wednesday night.

“Obviously, Ricky Gray doesn't have time. But when they say see the urgency of this... an injunction is something they can do pretty quickly. So, the Supreme Court can still act. And they can issue an injunction to stop the execution temporarily until they consider the issues,” said Stone.

Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency appeal filed by Gray's lawyers for a stay of execution.

Gray is a central figure in one of the most horrific crime sprees the Richmond area has ever seen.

Gray is on death row for the killings of Kathryn and Bryan Harvey and their two young daughters, Ruby, age 4, and Stella, age 9.  On New Year’s Day 2006, the Harveys were found bound, beaten, and stabbed inside the basement of their Woodland Heights home.

The home was also set on fire.

Gray was also involved, though not convicted, in the murders of Ashley Baskerville, 21; her mother, Mary Tucker, 47; and stepdad, Percyell Tucker, 55. Gray's nephew Ray Dandridge was convicted in the Baskerville-Tucker murders and sentenced to life in prison.

Several groups have petitioned Governor Terry McAuliffe for executive clemency for Gray.

A video released recently by Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty shows Gray apologizing for the deaths of the Harvey family.

It’s never left my mind, because I understand exactly what I took from the world by looking at my two sisters. I’m reminded each time I talk and see them that this is what I took from the world. You know, the potential for greatness in those kids.

The 18-minute video also examines the impact of the severe childhood sexual abuse Gray suffered, and the group argued that the jury never heard testimony detailing the abuse, nor did they hear about the drug use that ensued from said abuse.

Gray’s lawyers requested that Governor McAuliffe commute Gray’s sentence to life in prison without parole — the same sentence the Commonwealth agreed to for Dandridge.

The ACLU also asked the governor for clemency.

In a letter to the governor, ACLU-VA Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga referred to the civil rights organization’s blanket opposition to the death penalty, calling it “demonstrably ineffective and cruel and unusual punishment that should not be imposed in a just society, particularly where the penalty is applied arbitrarily and the procedure itself is inhumane.”

She suggested Gray’s sentence be commuted to life in prison.