Ricky Gray executed in Virginia

Ricky Gray was executed Wednesday night by the state of Virginia, a decade after he and his nephew cut a bloody swath from Pennsylvania to Richmond and left eight bodies in their wake.

Gray, 39, failed in his final days to convince Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) or the federal courts that his execution by injection should be delayed.

He was scheduled for execution at 9 p.m. He was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m., according to Lisa Kinney of the Virginia Department of Corrections. A witness, Frank Green of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, who has seen many state executions, said the process took 33 minutes — an unusually long time. “Once it got going, I saw more labored breathing than I have seen in the past, but I’m not sure of the significance of that,” he said.

It was the first time Virginia executed a prisoner using a drug combination that included midazolam, a sedative involved in several botched executions. Gray was also the first prisoner to be executed since Virginia passed a law blocking the release of information about compounding pharmacies that produce death penalty drugs.

The U.S. Supreme Court has narrowly upheld the use of midazolam in executions.

Gray declined to make a last statement, Kinney said.

Moments after the execution, one of Gray’s attorneys, Elizabeth Peiffer, said the public knew of Gray’s crimes but not his later remorse. “His death will take from the world a man trying hard to make amends and to make life better for others,” she said.

Gray’s crimes were among the most vicious in recent Virginia history. While implicated in the deaths of four other people, including his wife, Gray was convicted of slaughtering the Harvey family. Bryan Harvey was a popular local musician and computer technician; his wife Kathryn owned a quirky gift store. They were fun-loving and welcoming.

When Gray and Ray Dandridge came to rob the home on New Year’s Day in 2006, the front door was unlocked. The pair tied up Bryan, Kathryn, 9-year-old Stella and 4-year-old Ruby in the basement. Gray slashed them with a razor knife and battered them with claw hammers until they no longer moved. Then he set the home on fire. He and Dandridge ran off with a handful of items.

Gray’s attorneys unsuccessfully argued that the secrecy about the pharmacies and problems in past executions warranted further judicial review of the drugs. They also said the rapes and beatings Gray endured as a child and his subsequent PCP use were not explained to the jury that sentenced him to death. He was high on the psychosis-inducing drug during the killings, they said; in prison he had been a model inmate.

Gray “tried to honor the two Harvey girls by serving as a father figure to his much younger sisters and making sure their childhoods are better than what he endured,” attorneys Jon Sheldon and Rob Lee said in a statement. “We regret that he will no longer be able to try to make amends for his past wrongs.”

Like other states, Virginia has struggled to obtain the drugs needed to execute prisoners because of pressure on pharmaceutical companies to stop selling them. The state allows a prisoner to choose death by electrocution, but the default method is lethal injection.

An undated photo of Ricky Gray, who was executed Wednesday night at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va., for murdering the Harvey family — Stella, 9, sister Ruby, 4, and their parents, Bryan and Kathryn — in 2006. (Virginia Department of Corrections via AP)

Virginia executes convicted family killer Ricky Gray

Virginia on Wednesday evening executed death row inmate Ricky Gray via lethal injection for the killing of a family of four in 2006.

Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. ET, said Lisa Kinney, communications director for the Virginia Department of Corrections.

When asked whether he had any last words, Gray said, "Nope."

Gray appealed to the US Supreme Court for a stay of the execution.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a statement saying that he would not intervene.

"Mr. Gray was convicted in a fair and impartial trial, and a jury sentenced him to death in accordance with Virginia law," the governor said.

Gray was convicted of killing a Richmond couple and their two young daughters during a home invasion.


Virginia Executes Ricky Gray for Virginia Family Murders

The state of Virginia executed a man Wednesday night who confessed to the horrific drug-fueled murders of a couple and their two young daughters.

Virginia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney said 39-year-old inmate Ricky Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. following a lethal injection with the drugs midazolam, rocuronium bromide, and potassium chloride at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

Kinney said Gray was asked if he had any last words before the death sentence was carried out, and he responded, "Nope."

Gray's attorneys had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to put execution plans on hold based on Virginia's planned use of the drug midazolam for his lethal injection, which is so controversial that Arizona has agreed to never use it again. But the high court denied the request without explanation in a one-sentence order.

Dozens of mental health experts previously appealed for clemency for Ricky Gray, arguing he had been damaged by a childhood filled with merciless beatings and rape, but Gov. Terry McAuliffe decided not to spare his life.

"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," McAuliffe said in a statement. "After extensive review and deliberation, I have found no such circumstances."

Gray was the second prisoner executed in the U.S. this year.

He was sentenced to death in connection with a 2006 quadruple murder of a well-known Richmond family — musician Bryan Harvey, wife Kathryn and their children, 9-year-old Stella and 4-year-old Ruby.

The crime began as a home-invasion robbery and ended in a paroxysm of unimaginable violence. Gray, in the midst of a PCP binge, cut the victims' throats, then bludgeoned them before setting the house ablaze.

"They kept gettin' up and they was scaring me," Gray said in a confession played for the jury. "I remember seeing the hammer and picking it up and then I don't know who I hit first. I was just hittin' them all with the hammer.

"All I know is, nobody was moving when I left out there."

Gray also confessed to killing an acquaintance, Ashley Baskerville, and her parents a week after the Harvey murders but he was never tried for those killings.

As his execution approached, Gray issued a public apology.

"Remorse is not a deep enough word for how I feel," he said in an audio recording. "I know my words can't bring anything back, but I continuously feel horrible for the circumstances I put them through. I robbed them of a lifelong supply of joy. I've stolen Christmases, birthdays and Easters, Thanksgivings, graduations, weddings, children.

"There's nothing I can do to make up for that."

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