- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

RICHMOND — A man accused of killing a Richmond musician’s family hog-tied each of his four victims, stabbed them with a knife, cut their throats and bashed them in the head with a hammer, a prosecutor said yesterday.

In return for all the bloodshed, the prosecutor said, Ricky Jovan Gray and his purported accomplice made off with just three items: a computer, a wedding ring and some cookies.

Gray’s role in the New Year’s Day slayings of musician Bryan Harvey, 49, his wife, Kathryn, 39, and daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4, was not contested by Gray’s defense attorney, who told the court in opening statements that Gray has taken full responsibility for the killings and makes no excuses for his actions that day.

Gray has pleaded not guilty, though.

Gray and his nephew Ray Joseph Dandridge, both 29, are suspects in a string of bloody crimes that began in November, including the killing of another Richmond family less than a week after the Harvey family was slain.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for both.

Only Gray has been charged in the Harvey slayings.

He is charged with five violations of Virginia’s capital murder statute: killing more than one person in a three-year period, killing more than one person as part of the same act, killing someone in commission of a robbery or attempted robbery, and two counts of killing a child younger than 14 by someone at least 21 years old.

“The point was to steal,” prosecutor Matthew Geary said in opening statements. “There came a point in time where Mr. Gray decided to kill everybody.”

Mr. Geary and a series of prosecution witnesses revealed chilling details of the Harvey family’s final day. At times, the testimony drove several members in the courtroom to weep and at least one juror to blink back tears.

A family friend, Kirsten Perkinson, testified that on the day of the killings, she spoke with Mrs. Harvey about 9 a.m. before going to pick up her stepdaughter and Stella from a sleepover.

Mrs. Perkinson and the two girls arrived at the Harveys’ house about 10 a.m. and walked inside.

The home was silent, and Stella called out for her family. Mrs. Harvey then ran up the steps from the basement, looking pale and ashen, Mrs. Perkinson testified.

Stella ran past her, down to the basement, and Mrs. Perkinson asked Mrs. Harvey whether everything was OK.

Mrs. Harvey made the gesture of a gun with her hand and rotated it in a circular motion at her head before saying, “I’m not feeling very well today.” Thinking she was sick, Mrs. Perkinson and her stepdaughter left.

Mr. Geary said Gray was in the basement with the other family members when Mrs. Perkinson arrived, and had ordered Mrs. Harvey not to say anything to the visitors.

Mr. Geary said Gray hog-tied the couple and their children with extension cords and tape, then stabbed all of them with an 8-inch knife and cut their throats.

But they didn’t die, Mr. Geary said.

So Gray methodically and repeatedly bashed each victim in the head with a claw hammer.

Afterward, he used wine bottles to ignite a fire to cover up his crimes, Mr. Geary said, and took the wedding ring off Mr. Harvey’s finger.

Crime-scene photographs were shown to the jury of 12 persons and four alternates selected earlier yesterday. Several of the jurors grimaced and one briefly shut his eyes.

Two hammers and a bloody knife were among items introduced as evidence.

In opening statements, defense attorney Theodore Bruns told the jury that Gray confessed to police that he had killed the Harveys.

Gray’s final words of the confession, Mr. Bruns said, were: “I don’t know how I was able to do that. … I don’t believe ‘sorry’ was strong enough.”

“What Ricky Gray and Ray Dandridge did to the Harvey family was unfair — it was senseless,” Mr. Bruns said. “It would be easy for you to listen to the testimony, look at the photographs and to shut down — to harden your hearts.”

Mr. Bruns urged the jurors to reserve judgment and “resist your inclination to rush to a conclusion.”

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