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Ricky Gray apologizes; more than 50 mental health experts urge clemency
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Ricky Gray apologizes; more than 50 mental health experts urge clemency

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Not long after Ricky Javon Gray was arrested and confessed to murdering seven people in Richmond, he apologized and told police, “I just want to die.”

Gray is scheduled to be executed next week for the killings of Ruby Harvey, 4, and Stella Harvey, 9, and according to a statement released by his lawyers Wednesday, he remains sorry, if no longer hoping to die:

“Remorse is not a deep enough word for how I feel. I know my words can’t bring anything back, but I continuously feel horrible for the circumstances that I put them through. I robbed them of a lifelong supply of joy. I’ve stolen Christmas, birthdays and Easters, Thanksgivings, graduations, and weddings, children. There’s nothing I can do to make up for that. 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.

“I’m sorry they had to be a victim of my despair.”

His lawyers wrote that Gray “apologized for the crimes when arrested and has always been remorseful for the senseless pain and suffering he and (Ray) Dandridge caused. He mourns the Harvey girls every day, and he remembers them through his two youngest sisters who are the same ages Stella and Ruby would be today.”

Meanwhile, citing “horrific” childhood abuse said to have been suffered by Gray, more than 50 mental health professionals have sent a letter asking Gov. Terry McAuliffe to commute his death sentence to life in prison.

“As professionals in fields devoted to mental health; treatment of and advocacy for victims of violence and sexual abuse; and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction, we urge you to recognize the impact these factors had in Mr. Gray’s life,” begins the four-paragraph letter dated Tuesday.

Two of the signers are James W. Stewart III and Jim Reinhard, prior commissioners for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson turned down a bid to delay Gray’s Jan. 18 execution for the Jan. 1, 2006, slayings of the Harvey sisters.

Gray also killed their parents, Bryan Harvey, 49, and Kathryn Harvey, 39, in their South Richmond home. The victims were bound, stabbed and beaten with a hammer, and their house set on fire. Days later, Gray and Dandridge, 39, killed Ashley Baskerville, 21; Baskerville’s mother, Mary Tucker, 47; and stepfather, Percyell Tucker, 55, in their Richmond home.

Notice was filed Wednesday by Gray’s lawyers that they will appeal Hudson’s decision to the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gray also has a clemency petition pending before McAuliffe in which his lawyers ask the sentence be commuted to life, the same sentence that Dandridge received.

Gray’s lawyers said they argue in the petition to McAuliffe that evidence developed since Gray’s trial sheds light on his behavior and provides an understanding of — not an excuse for — why he committed the crimes with Dandridge.

“This evidence should have been presented to the jurors deciding whether to sentence Gray to death. Gray was under the influence of powerful drugs, including psychosis-generating PCP, at the time of the crimes. He was introduced to the drug as a child, and became addicted as a way to try to block out the effects of the physical and sexual abuse he suffered for years at the hands of his family members. Ever since he has been free from PCP, Gray has exhibited no violent behavior, and has been a model inmate,” Gray’s lawyers said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

In support of the clemency petition, Gray’s lawyers said they provided reports from experts who evaluated Gray after his trial and found that he was particularly susceptible to the effects of PCP and other drugs because childhood trauma had changed the development of his brain, and because his drug abuse was so serious.

His lawyers said witnesses reported that by the time Gray was 12, he was using PCP several times a week to numb the trauma resulting from the beatings, rapes and other abuse he suffered starting as a young child. The clemency petition states that from the time he was 4 until he was 11, Gray was raped and sodomized, often on a daily basis.

The mental health professionals who signed the letter Tuesday said they reviewed the material on the physical and sexual abuse suffered by Gray and his resulting substance abuse and drug addiction problems.

“In Mr. Gray’s case, his abuse and trauma were left unaddressed and predictably led to profound despair and other serious trauma symptoms, drug addiction, and the drug use that resulted in the tragic crimes he committed with Ray Dandridge,” the professionals wrote.

They concluded: “The crimes committed by Mr. Gray and Mr. Dandridge were horrible and deserving of strong punishment. But it also is beyond dispute that Ricky Gray was the victim of horrific sexual and physical abuse — starting at a very young age and continuing throughout his childhood, which led to drug abuse, crippling addiction, and ultimately criminal behavior.”

“In these circumstances, we offer our support for a decision to commute Mr. Gray’s decision to life imprisonment without possibility of parole,” the mental health professionals concluded.

It is not known when McAuliffe will act on Gray’s petition. In 2015, he turned down a clemency bid from serial killer Alfredo Prieto several days prior to his execution.

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