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Ronald Adrin Gray - US Military Death Row
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    Ronald Adrin Gray - US Military Death Row




    Summary of Offense:

    Convicted of raping and killing Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay of Fayetteville on December 15, 1986. She was shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol that Gray confessed to stealing. She suffered blunt force trauma over much of her body.

    He was also convicted of raping and killing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a civilian cab driver in Fayetteville. She was bound, gagged, stabbed repeatedly, and had bruises and lacerations on her face. Her body was found on the base.

    Finally, he was convicted of raping, robbing and attempting to kill Army Pvt. Mary Ann Lang Nameth in her barracks at Fort Bragg on January 3, 1987. She testified against Gray during the court-martial and identified him as her assailant. Gray raped her and stabbed her several times in the neck and side. Nameth suffered a laceration of the trachea and a collapsed or punctured lung.

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    July 28, 2008

    WASHINGTON — President Bush on Monday approved the execution of an Army private, the first time in over a half-century that a president has affirmed a death sentence for a member of the U.S. military.

    With his signature from the Oval Office, Bush said yes to the military's request to execute Ronald A. Gray, the White House confirmed. Gray had had been convicted in connection with a spree of four murders and eight rapes in the Fayetteville, N.C., area over eight months in the late 1980s while stationed at Fort Bragg.

    "While approving a sentence of death for a member of our armed services is a serious and difficult decision for a commander in chief, the president believes the facts of this case leave no doubt that the sentence is just and warranted," White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

    In the military courts, "Private Gray was convicted of committing brutal crimes, including two murders, an attempted murder and three rapes. The victims included a civilian and two members of the Army. ... The president's thoughts and prayers are with the victims of these heinous crimes and their families and all others affected."

    Unlike in the civilian courts, a member of the U.S. armed forces cannot be executed until the president approves the death sentence. Gray has been on death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since April 1988.

    Members of the U.S. military have been executed throughout history, but just 10 have been executed by presidential approval since 1951 when the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's modern-day legal system, was enacted into law.

    President Kennedy was the last president to stare down this life-or-death decision. On Feb. 12, 1962, Kennedy commuted the death sentence of Jimmie Henderson, a Navy seaman, to confinement for life.

    President Eisenhower was the last president to approve a military execution. In 1957, he approved the execution of John Bennett, an Army private convicted of raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl. He was hanged in 1961.

    The death penalty was outlawed between 1972 and 1984, when President Reagan reinstated it.

    Gray was held responsible for the crimes committed between April 1986 and January 1987 in both the civilian and military justice systems.

    In civilian courts in North Carolina, Gray pleaded guilty to two murders and five rapes and was sentenced to three consecutive and five concurrent life terms.

    He then was tried by general court-martial at the Army's Fort Bragg. In April 1988, the court-martial convicted Gray of two murders, an attempted murder and three rapes. He was unanimously sentenced to death.

    The court-martial panel convicted Gray of:

    —Raping and killing Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay of Fayetteville on Dec. 15, 1986. She was shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol that Gray confessed to stealing. She suffered blunt force trauma over much of her body.

    —Raping and killing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a civilian cab driver in Fayetteville. She was bound, gagged, stabbed repeatedly, and had bruises and lacerations on her face. Her body was found on the base.

    —Raping, robbing and attempting to kill Army Pvt. Mary Ann Lang Nameth in her barracks at Fort Bragg on Jan. 3, 1987. She testified against Gray during the court-martial and identified him as her assailant. Gray raped her and stabbed her several times in the neck and side. Nameth suffered a laceration of the trachea and a collapsed or punctured lung.

    The six-member court-martial panel returned its unanimous verdict after about two hours of deliberations. The panel also reduced Gray from Spec. 4 to private, forfeited all his pay and ordered him to be dishonorably discharged from the Army.

    Gray has appealed his case through the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (then known as the U.S. Army Court of Military Review) and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services. In 2001, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

    Bush got the secretary of the Army's recommendation to approve Gray's death sentence in late 2005. Since then, it's been under review by the Bush administration, including the White House legal counsel.

    Complicating the administration's deliberation was a case under review this year by the Supreme Court.

    The court ruled in April to uphold the most common method of capital punishment used across the United States. The justices said the three-drug mix of lethal-injection drugs used by Kentucky and most other states does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling in the case of Baze v. Rees cleared the way for a resumption of executions nationwide.

    It was unclear where Gray would be executed. Military executions are handled by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

    Bush's decision, however, is not likely the end of Gray's legal battle. Further litigation is expected and these types of death sentence appeals often take years to resolve.

    The military also has asked Bush to authorize the execution of Dwight J. Loving, who has been at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since 1989 after being convicted of killing two taxicab drivers while he was an Army private at Fort Hood, Texas. But that request is not yet ripe for a presidential decision. The White House declined to discuss the case.

    (Source: The Houston Chronicle)

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    November 20, 2008

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Army cook convicted of multiple rapes and murders is set to die next month in what would be the U.S. military's first execution in nearly 50 years.

    The military said Thursday that former North Carolina soldier Ronald A. Gray is to be executed Dec. 10 at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Ind.

    Gray was arrested in connection with four slayings and eight rapes in the Fayetteville, N.C., area between April 1986 and January 1987, while he was stationed at Fort Bragg. He was convicted of murdering two women.

    President Bush approved Gray's execution in July, and a month later Army Secretary Pete Geren set the execution date and ordered that Gray be put to death by injection. The date was publicly released Thursday.

    "The Army is moving forward with plans to fulfill the court-martial sentence," said Army spokesman Lt. Col. George Wright.

    Gray has appealed his case through military courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case in 2001. Wright said Gray had two legal options remaining: filing a petition with a federal appellate court to stay the execution, or request that the president reconsider approval of the execution.

    Army personnel will be responsible for conducting the execution in Indiana based on an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

    Only 10 members of the military have been executed since 1951, when the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's modern-day legal system, was enacted.

    President Eisenhower was the last president to approve a military execution. That was for John Bennett, who was hanged in 1961 for raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

    On Feb. 12, 1962, President Kennedy commuted the death sentence of Jimmy Henderson, a Navy seaman, to confinement for life.

    Gray, 43, is being confined at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. He was convicted by a six-member court-martial panel for:

    _ Raping and killing Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay of Fayetteville on Dec. 15, 1986. She was shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol that Gray confessed to stealing. She also suffered blunt force trauma over much of her body.

    _Raping and killing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a civilian cab driver in Fayetteville. She was bound, gagged, stabbed repeatedly and had bruises and lacerations on her face. Her body was found on the base.

    _Raping, robbing and attempting to kill an Army private in her barracks at Fort Bragg on Jan. 3, 1987. The victim testified against Gray and identified him as her assailant. Gray raped her and stabbed her several times in the neck and side.

    Wright said there are four other members of the military — two soldiers, a Marine and one Air Force airman — under sentence of death.

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    November 24, 2008

    Military sets execution date; First execution since 1961 for the military

    A former Army cook convicted of multiple rapes and murders is set to die next month in what would be the U.S. military's 1st execution in nearly 50 years.

    The military said Thursday that former North Carolina soldier Ronald A. Gray is to be executed Dec. 10 at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Ind.

    Gray was arrested in connection with 4 slayings and 8 rapes in the Fayetteville, N.C., area between April 1986 and January 1987, while he was stationed at Fort Bragg. He was convicted of murdering two women.

    President Bush approved Gray's execution in July, and a month later Army Secretary Pete Geren set the execution date and ordered that Gray be put to death by injection. The date was publicly released Thursday.

    "The Army is moving forward with plans to fulfill the court-martial sentence," said Army spokesman Lt. Col. George Wright.

    Gray has appealed his case through military courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case in 2001. Wright said Gray had 2 legal options remaining: filing a petition with a federal appellate court to stay the execution, or request that the president reconsider approval of the execution.

    Army personnel will be responsible for conducting the execution in Indiana based on an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

    Only 10 members of the military have been executed since 1951, when the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's modern-day legal system, was enacted.

    President Eisenhower was the last president to approve a military execution. That was for John Bennett, who was hanged in 1961 for raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

    On Feb. 12, 1962, President Kennedy commuted the death sentence of Jimmy Henderson, a Navy seaman, to confinement for life.

    Gray, 43, is being confined at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. He was convicted by a 6-member court-martial panel for:

    -Raping and killing Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay of Fayetteville on Dec. 15, 1986. She was shot 4 times with a .22-caliber pistol that Gray confessed to stealing. She also suffered blunt force trauma over much of her body. -Raping and killing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a civilian cab driver in Fayetteville. She was bound, gagged, stabbed repeatedly and had bruises and lacerations on her face. Her body was found on the base.

    -Raping, robbing and attempting to kill an Army private in her barracks at Fort Bragg on Jan. 3, 1987. The victim testified against Gray and identified him as her assailant. Gray raped her and stabbed her several times in the neck and side.

    Wright said there are 4 other members of the military - 2 soldiers, a Marine and 1 Air Force airman - under sentence of death.

    On the Net: Department of the Army: http://www.army.mil

    U.S. Disciplinary Barracks: http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/usdb/

    (Source: The Associated Press)

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    November 26, 2008

    The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas today entered a stay of execution in the case of Private Ronald A. Gray. The execution had been scheduled to take place on December 10th.

    (Source: The Associated Press)

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    December 2, 2008

    Condemned former soldier gets more time to appeal

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge in Kansas has blocked what would be the military's first execution since 1961, giving the condemned prisoner more time to appeal his conviction and sentence.

    U.S. District Judge Richard Rogers issued a stay Nov. 26 in the case of Ronald A. Gray, whose execution was scheduled for Dec. 10.

    Gray, 43, was convicted in military court in 1988 and sentenced to die for two murders and three rapes in the Fayetteville, N.C., area while he was stationed at Fort Bragg. He pleaded guilty in civilian courts to two separate murders and five separate rapes and was sentenced to three consecutive and five concurrent life prison terms.

    Attorneys for the Justice Department filed documents Tuesday asking Rogers to reconsider his stay order, saying Gray has had ample time to appeal his death sentence.

    In seeking the stay, Gray's attorney, Thomas Bath, said he wasn't able to appeal until President George W. Bush signed the execution order in July. Bath noted that it took seven years from the time the U.S. Supreme Court denied Gray's request for review until Bush signed the execution order, starting the clock for further appeals.

    The date and location of the execution — the federal complex in Terre Haute, Ind. — were approved in August.

    Bath said Tuesday that he wants the judge to consider whether two changes in the military code since Gray's conviction and sentencing should apply to his case. Congress has since increased the number of jurors hearing military trials from six to 12. Also, military courts now must allow defendants to present mitigating evidence during sentencing hearings.

    "His case is going to present some interesting issues," Bath said.

    The judge could order Gray to stand trial again before 12 jurors or set aside the death sentence and order new sentencing, Bath said. Further appeals could follow a ruling.

    Gray is being held at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

    Only 10 members of the military have been executed since 1951, when the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's modern-day legal system, was enacted.

    Dwight Eisenhower was the last president to approve a military execution. In 1957, he approved the execution of John Bennett, an Army private convicted of raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl. He was hanged in 1961.

    On Feb. 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy commuted the death sentence of Jimmy Henderson, a Navy seaman, to confinement for life.

    Gray has appealed his case through the Army Court of Criminal Appeals — then known as the U.S. Army Court of Military Review — and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services. In 2001, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

    Besides Gray, four other members of the military — two soldiers, one Marine and one Air Force airman — are sentenced to die.

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    Military death sentence case may head back for Supreme Court certiorari decision

    For the 1st time in half a century, the President approved a military death sentence this summer. Army Private Ronald Gray was sentenced to death by a military court-martial panel in 1988 after convicting him of two murders, three rapes, an attempted murder, and a host of other crimes. A military death sentence triggers automatic appeals. In Gray's case, his conviction went before the Army Court of Military Review (now the Army Court of Criminal Appeals) and the Court of Military Appeals (now the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces). The United States Supreme Court declined to review Gray's case. Gray currently sits on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

    In accordance with Article 76 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Rules for Courts-Martial 1113 and 1207, a court-martial death sentence is not final until the President approves it. While Gray's case reached the President in 2001, President Bush only signed the death warrant in late July of this year. The Army then scheduled Gray's execution for December 10, 2008 at the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana.

    Several weeks before the execution date, Gray filed a petition in the District of Kansas, seeking a stay of his execution and the appointment of defense counsel for his planned pursuit of a writ of habeas corpus. Normally, federal prisoners are allowed a single petition challenging their conviction or sentence via a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Despite the 2 decades of legal wrangling in this case, Gray has never filed a petition seeking such a writ. The defense argument, a rather compelling one, is that such a petition would have been premature until the President approved the death sentence.

    The federal judge assigned to this case, Senior Judge Richard D. Rogers, agreed to the stay on November 26, 2008. The government subsequently responded to the stay order by filing a motion to reconsider the decision, citing Gray's "delay" in seeking such a stay and his lack of filing a petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus before the weeks leading up to his execution date. Given the 7 years it took for the President to approve the death sentence and the gravity of the case, the government's argument is certainly disquieting, to say the least. The government also based its reconsideration request on Gray's perceived lack of significant probability of success on the merits and a lack of jurisdiction. Gray's attorneys opposed the motion for reconsideration, countering the government's argument that it was harmed by Gray's actions in seeking a stay when he did. On Friday, Judge Rogers rejected the government's arguments and declined to reconsider the stay order.

    The next step in this case will likely be for Gray's attorneys to file a petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus. In all probability, this case will percolate back to the United States Supreme Court. Stay tuned."

    (Source: Michelle M. Lindo McCluer [Director, National Institute of Military Justice] -- The Jurist)

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    May 5, 2009

    Why is Ronald Adrin Gray still alive?

    Twenty-three years ago, Linda Jean Coats made a fatal mistake.

    She opened her door.

    The 22-year-old Campbell University student had been lying on her sofa when a neighbor came to her home in Fairlane Acres Mobile Home Park.

    Army Spc. Ronald Adrin Gray asked to use the phone.

    Coats had likely seen Gray many times. He lived a few streets away with his wife and stepdaughter. He jogged through the neighborhood almost every day, lifted weights in his yard and listened to rock music on his front steps.

    That night — April 27, 1986 — Gray became a murderer.

    Coats let him in.

    In the nine months to follow, Gray would rape eight women and murder three of them.

    In those months, Gray sent terror through Fairlane Acres and Fayetteville.

    By the end of 1986, people were fleeing the mobile home park, off Bragg Boulevard, by the dozens.

    During a five-day stretch that December, Fairlane Acres resident Tammy Wilson was raped and fatally shot in the head. Another resident, Pfc. Laura Lee Vickery Clay, disappeared; her home was burned and her car found parked a block away.

    Folks weren’t sticking around to see what — or who — was next.

    “We had people moving out all over the place,” said Tammy Tokarchick, who worked in the rental office at the time. “People were moving out in the middle of the night.”

    The death of Wilson and the disappearance of Clay commanded police and media attention. They became the first public signs that a serial killer was likely on the prowl in Fayetteville.

    Plainclothes detectives were everywhere. Search helicopters scanned the woods near the 400-lot trailer park just south of Fort Bragg. Newly hired security guards drove through the neighborhood at night, looking for anyone who didn’t belong.

    But the man responsible for the Fairlane Acres rapes and murders wasn’t an outsider.

    He was Gray, a cook in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division who often hitchhiked in uniform to work in the mornings.

    He would be accused of attacks on 11 women and convicted of all but one. During his nine-month rampage, Gray dubbed himself “the Grim Reaper of Fairlane Acres.”

    Today, Gray is a 43-year-old inmate at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He has been on the military’s death row for two decades.

    Last year, the secretary of the Army set a date for Gray’s death. He was to become the first person executed by the military since 1961. But a judge granted another delay just before the Dec. 10 execution. Gray awaits the outcome of his latest appeal.

    Gray’s terrifying grip on Fayetteville’s psyche is long past. But there are those who remember: victims scarred by fear, and family members still grieving.

    And they can’t help but wonder why he’s still alive.

    Without Ronald Gray’s confessions, prosecutor John Dickson said at the time, it might have been impossible to prove him responsible for some of his crimes.

    One of the crimes he confessed to was the murder of Linda Jean Coats, the woman detectives believe was Gray’s first victim.

    The confessions, which Gray made in November 1987, are recorded in court transcripts. They provide a gruesome image from the past:

    On the night of April 27, 1986, Gray peeked through the windows of Coats’ trailer on Bob Street and saw her lying on her couch, reading.

    She answered Gray’s knock at the door dressed in a robe.

    Gray, about 5 feet 9 inches tall with a muscular build, asked if he could use her telephone.

    Once inside, Gray pointed a stolen .38-caliber revolver at Coats’ head and directed her to the bedroom. His intention was to rob and rape her. But the gun went off. Coats was the casualty of a light trigger, Gray told detectives.

    He walked over to her, saw that she was bleeding from the head, and blasted another round into her temple.

    Then he walked home.

    Coats’ body would be found two days later.

    Gray wouldn’t hold onto the gun for long, tossing it into the lake at McKellar’s Lodge on Fort Bragg.

    Two weeks after Coats died, Gray broke into a home off Reilly Road and attacked a woman as she slept on a couch in her apartment.

    In June 1986, he broke into a house across Bragg Boulevard from the trailer park, on Old Shaw Road, and tried to rape a woman.

    After that, Gray became quiet. It would be five months before another crime would be linked to him.

    On Nov. 12, Gray broke into a neighbor’s house and took a .22-caliber pistol and a videocassette recorder. With another stolen gun, Gray embarked on two frenzied months of terror.

    Stigall, 20 at the time, was a bartender. Her roommate, roughly Stigall’s age, was a dancer.

    It was early morning, Nov. 16, 1986, and the pair didn’t realize until they got home that they had left the door key at work.

    Home was Fairlane Lodge, a two-story brick apartment building in the same neighborhood as Gray’s home.

    Stigall’s roommate went to the pay phone by their building to call her boyfriend while waiting for her brother to bring the key.

    Stigall was standing yards away, next to the apartment. A smiling man wearing dark jeans and a gold band approached and asked if she wanted to have a good time. She declined twice, and he walked away.

    But when she saw him doubling back in their direction, Stigall said, she knew something didn’t feel right.

    She scurried to the phone, where her friend was standing. So did Gray.

    And now, he wasn’t smiling.

    “I said, ‘Oh God, here he comes,’ ” Stigall said, recalling the worst night of her life. “He put the gun right to my forehead and said, ‘If either of you holler, I’ll kill you right where you stand.’”

    Gray reached out and hung up the pay phone while the roommate held the receiver.

    He put an arm around each woman and walked them down Comanche Street into the woods.

    Every step of the way, Stigall prayed that someone would walk outside or drive past and save them.

    It was about 3 a.m. From the spot he took them, Stigall could still see the trailers.

    She said he raped them at gunpoint for about three hours.

    “I was petrified. I just knew everything was over for me, for her,” Stigall said. “He just kept telling us, ‘The one who don’t please me is the one who’s going to die.’”

    During the assault, Gray was smoking cigarettes, putting the butts back in his pocket. He made the women smoke with him.

    When Gray was done, he told the women to turn their heads and wait 15 to 20 minutes and they could leave.

    Gray told them he knew where they worked and he would kill them if anyone found out about the rapes.

    The women remained quiet for more than a month, scared that Gray would come back for them. Stigall’s roommate would later go to police.

    In the next eight weeks, Gray would attack five more women. A sixth woman would name Gray as her attacker, then drop the charges and refuse to testify at his court-martial.

    Chris Doran, who was stationed on Fort Bragg and was a court reporter during part of Gray’s legal proceedings, remembers the atmosphere at the end of 1986 and the early days of 1987. Doran said it seemed that the Army post didn’t experience the same sense of fear that spread through the city.

    “You couldn’t go through a whole day without somebody bringing it up,” Doran said. “I think people at Fort Bragg — which was not true, as it turned out — felt a little safer.”

    On Nov. 28, 1986, Gray abducted a 28-year-old woman from a Bragg Boulevard motel room and raped her in the woods off Buffalo Street, just south of Fairlane Acres.

    On Dec. 11, two days after Gray came home from a military exercise, he returned to a familiar tactic.

    After peeking in the windows of a trailer on Huron Street, Gray again knocked on the door and asked if he could use the phone.

    This night, it was Tammy Wilson of Huron Street, two streets from where he took advantage of his first victim’s kindness.

    Gray would later tell the story to detectives, referring to the killer as “the old Ronald Gray” following what he claimed was a jailhouse conversion to Christianity:

    “The old Ronald Gray went to her trailer, asked to use the phone. She let him in to use the phone. He, at that time, displayed a gun — .22-caliber; I believe it was a .22-caliber — and led her out of the house, across the street, over the fence, over a watery path, into the wooded area and the old Ronald Gray did rape her, and he shot her.”

    Wilson’s body was found the day after she died, partially nude with a bullet hole in the back of her head.

    Pfc. Clay lived on Iroquois Street, four streets from Wilson’s trailer

    Clay, an 18-year-old newlywed from Plainwell, Mich., had been in Fayetteville only a few months.

    Her encounter with Gray happened Dec. 15, four days after Wilson died. Clay’s husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Clay, was on Fort Bragg for field exercises.

    Early on the morning of Dec. 16, the Clays’ trailer burned. When Michael Clay was released from duty to attend to the emergency, he could find no sign of his wife.

    Her tan Chevette was found parked a block from the trailer. The seat was back, as if someone larger than Laura Clay had driven it. There were scrape marks on the car, as if it had been driven through underbrush.

    Clay’s parents came from Michigan to help with the search party. At one point, they were so desperate for clues that they hired a psychic.

    But no one would know for a month the horror that Clay had faced. She had been driven to the woods on Fort Bragg, forced to strip, then shot once in the breast. She was raped before being shot three more times in the head.

    Gray continued his attacks.

    An Army private heard a knock on her barracks door about 4 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, 1987.

    She assumed it was her boyfriend. Gray identified himself as Ronnie. He asked the woman if she knew where her neighbor was. When she said no, Gray wrote a note on the neighbor’s door pad and asked the woman if he could use her bathroom.

    When he came out, he invited her to a party the next night, writing down the address on a note. When she turned around to put the note away, Gray put a knife to her neck. He tied her hands behind her back with a curling iron cord, threw her on her bed and raped her, court records show.

    After he raped the woman, Gray stabbed her three times in the neck and once on the left side of her chest.

    When Gray left, the woman, hands still tied, locked the door with her teeth and called for help.

    On Jan. 6, Stigall’s roommate went to police to report her attacker in the pay phone abduction. She would be camped out in a surveillance van with authorities later that night, waiting to identify Gray.

    That same night, a man identifying himself as Ronald Gray called the Terminal Taxi Co. and asked that a driver named Kim pick him up at the Pantry gas station across the street from Fairlane Acres.

    At 8 p.m., 24-year-old Kimberly Ruggles told dispatchers that she would be taking the man to the airport.

    Ruggles’ roommate at the time, Doris Wolfe, said Ruggles planned to drive a man named Ron to Hope Mills for a drug deal in exchange for $2,000.

    But taxi No. 211 was found abandoned on Fort Bragg.

    Gray forced Ruggles into the woods on post.

    He gagged her and tied her hands behind her back at knifepoint, then tortured, raped and killed her.

    That night, as he walked home from killing Ruggles, the woman in the surveillance van pointed him out to investigators.

    Before investigators arrested Gray, he tossed a pair of black ninja pants into a neighbor’s garbage can. The tie on those pants, which was torn, would later be matched to the gag used on Ruggles. In the weeks to come, detectives drew links to his other attacks.

    In November 1987, Gray pleaded guilty in civilian court to 22 felonies, including two murders, five rapes and an attempted rape.

    But the Army had charges to bring as well, for the deaths of Ruggles and Clay and for the attack on the Army private in her barracks.

    The private had recognized Gray on television after his arrest, while she was recuperating in the hospital. She agreed to testify against him at his court-martial.

    A military jury of six men unanimously found Gray guilty of the murders and rape on Fort Bragg and sentenced him to death.

    Chip Vickery, Clay’s father, said after the trial that the death sentence restored his faith in the justice system.

    “The only thing I’m sorry about is that it will take four or five years … to get it done,” he said.

    Today, he and his wife, Karen, are enraged that Gray hasn’t been executed.

    Former President George W. Bush approved Gray’s death sentence on July 28, 2008, a final step required by the military justice system. Before Bush signed off on the execution, Gray’s conviction was upheld by the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court denied two requests to hear Gray’s appeal.

    Chip and Karen Vickery were in contact with the military about plane tickets to Indiana to witness Gray’s death, which was scheduled for Dec. 10.

    The couple were not surprised that the appeal was successful, but they were appalled.

    Karen Vickery has begged the military for her daughter’s school jacket, which was with her the night she died. Clay wore it often, and it would be another reminder of her.

    But until Gray is executed, the jacket will remain evidence.

    “They sentenced him to death; they just neglected to say it was going to be death by old age,” Karen Vickery said.

    The crux of Gray’s latest appeal is that he was sentenced to die by a six-member jury, half the number used in civilian courts in capital cases.

    Since Gray’s conviction, Congress has mandated that all courts-martial involving the death penalty have at least 12 jurors.

    The 106-page appeal document argues that it will always be easier to persuade six people to agree on a death sentence than 12, and that violated Gray’s rights.

    The appeal also accuses the original judge of unfairly limiting Gray’s background as mitigating factors to find a sentence less than death.

    Gray had an impoverished childhood and an abusive stepfather, according to the appeal. He had a history of psychological, physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect and a long history of mental health problems.

    Those reasons don’t hold water with Stigall, the rape victim, or with Vickery’s parents.

    Gray was convicted under the rules of the time. And what, they ask, about the rights he stripped from his victims?

    Dwight D. Eisenhower was the last president to approve a military execution, in 1957. It took four more years for the military to hang Pfc. John Bennett for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

    The Vickery family said every breath Gray takes is an insult.

    “We are Christians, and we know that we are supposed to forgive, but some things you just don’t have the power to overcome,” Chip Vickery said. “This thing won’t be over until he’s dead.”

    http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=325281

  9. #9
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    Lawyers to continue appeals in Ronald Gray murder conviction case

    Lawyers for Ronald Gray are continuing their fight in a military appeals court as they try to get their client off death row.

    In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas on Thursday, Gray's lawyers say they intend to appeal a court ruling that denies extraordinary relief.

    Gray, 46, is a former Fort Bragg soldier on death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

    He was convicted of a series of rapes and murders more than 20 years ago. His execution has been stayed while his appeal works its way through federal court.

    The federal court proceedings are on hold until Gray has exhausted his military appeals, but lawyers on both sides have filed status updates on those cases.

    The U.S. government filed a status report earlier this month saying the Army Court of Criminal Appeals had decided to deny relief in Gray's case.

    That decision was released Jan. 26, according to court documents.

    Gray's lawyers, however, say they plan to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the top military appeals court.

    Gray was convicted in 1988 in military court. His execution was approved by President George W. Bush in 2008, but it has been on hold while Gray exhausts his appeals.

    Gray's lawyers claim he had an ineffective lawyer in his earlier case, argue that he lacked the mental capacity to stand trial and question the military's jurisdiction over the case.

    Lawyers for the government, meanwhile, have asked a federal judge to lift the stay of execution that has delayed Gray's death for three years.

    Gray, a former soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division, has been housed at Fort Leavenworth since his conviction at a court-martial in 1988 on two counts of murder and three counts of rape. He also pleaded guilty to 22 felonies in Cumberland County Superior Court, including two additional murders and five other rapes.

    Gray's crimes were committed in 1986 and 1987 in Fairlane Acres Mobile Home City near Fort Bragg.

    He originally was scheduled to be executed in December 2008. If Gray is put to death, it would be the first military execution in 50 years.

    The military jury convicted Gray in the deaths of Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery Clay and Kimberly Ann Ruggles. A civilian court convicted Gray in the deaths of Linda Jean Coats and Tammy Wilson.

    He was sentenced to death in the military court and to eight life sentences in civilian court, three of which were to be served consecutively.

    http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/...ac=fo.military

  10. #10
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    Winter Garden man worries he'll be dead before Army executes daughter's killer

    Edward Bowman fears he won't live to see his daughter's killer executed.

    The Winter Garden man, 71, has waited 26 years for the U.S. military to carry out a 1988 death sentence handed to Ronald Gray, the soldier who raped and murdered Kimberly Ann Bowman Ruggles, 1 of 4 killings the court-martialed Army specialist either admitted to or was convicted of committing.

    "Where is the justice?" Bowman said. "Before I leave this earth, I'd really like to see some kind of justice."

    Bowman, who keeps company with a tail-less calico cat in an RV/trailer park in Winter Garden, pointed out that the 3 children his 23-year-old daughter left behind are now older than she was when her beaten, stabbed and naked body was found in a wooded area Jan. 7, 1987, in Fayetteville, N.C.

    She was working as a taxi-cab driver near Fort Bragg, N.C., where Gray was stationed, and her last fare was a passenger named "Ron." The cab was found abandoned nearby.

    A medical examiner said she had been raped and stabbed, and bled to death.

    In July 2008, after all military-court appeals had been exhausted, then-President George W. Bush signed a required warrant, authorizing the death sentence and clearing the path for Gray to become the 1st American soldier executed by the U.S. military in more than half a century. 2 weeks before the execution by lethal injection, a federal judge issued a "temporary" stay.

    The case has been stuck in federal court ever since.

    According to federal court documents, the most recent entry in Gray's latest appeal concerned the withdrawal of an appointed lawyer who retired last month from active military duty and could no longer represent the condemned soldier as part of the Army Defense Appellate Division.

    Gray, who was 22 at the time of his crimes, remains 1 of just 6 former servicemen on military death row inside the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the military's only maximum-security prison.

    Among the others is Nidal Hasan, the former Army psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer who killed 13 people during a shooting rampage in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas. He was sent to the prison after a court-martial and trial in military court last year.

    Bowman pleaded last month with U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster to investigate the delay in Gray's sentence.

    Webster's staff submitted a formal inquiry to the Army, which acknowledged receipt of the request but has not provided a response, said Elizabeth Tyrrell, Webster's deputy chief of staff and communications director.

    An Army spokeswoman was unable to provide a comment this week about Gray's case.

    The U.S. military has executed 135 men since 1916, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., but only 10 since 1951 and none since John Bennett on April 13, 1961. The Army private was hanged for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old girl.

    While Bowman hopes to outlive Gray, his son-in-law rarely thinks about the soldier who killed his wife.

    "It'd be fine with me if the guy just died right where he's at," said Michael Ruggles, 55, a truck driver living in Gilchrist County west of Gainesville. "To be honest with you, I think he should live the way he is, penned up for the rest of his sorry-ass life."

    Ruggles said his children, now ages 34, 30 and 28, have moved on. The youngest was an infant at the time.

    "All of my kids, damn-fine kids, I consider myself lucky as far as that goes," Ruggles said.

    The eldest is a pastor in North Florida. His church is named New Beginnings.

    Ruggles, who rarely speaks with his father-in-law, said he'd prefer that Bowman "just let it go."

    "He's waiting to see this all settled before he dies, and I can understand that, but it's apparently never going to be," he said. "Years ago, I made up my mind about this. There's nothing I can do about it. I just don't want the man out hurting anybody else."

    Lori Keith, now 40 and living Mount Dora, was present at the court-martial of her sister's killer.

    Just 13 at the time and seated behind Gray, she recalled that he "smiled a lot" through the proceedings. But her mother, now deceased, urged her to forgive the soldier who had raped and killed 3 other women.

    She said she has.

    "It's not my place to say when, where or how," Keith said. "That's between the law and the Lord."

    (Source: The Orlando Sentinel)
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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