- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

RICHMOND — A jury deliberated just 30 minutes this afternoon before finding a man guilty of five counts of capital murder in the random killings of a popular Richmond family.

Ricky Jovan Gray, 29, could face the death penalty for the New Year’s Day slayings of musician Bryan Harvey, 49, his wife, Kathryn, 39, and daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4.

The family members were found in the basement of their burning home, bound, beaten and stabbed, with their throats cut.

The prosecution was expected to begin presenting evidence in the sentencing phase of the trial this afternoon.

Harvey family supporters blinked back tears of relief and nodded in affirmation of the guilty verdict. Gray stood stoically, his hands behind his back as the verdict was read.

In the Harvey killings, Gray and an accomplice robbed the family of a computer, a wedding ring and a basket of cookies. Gray and his nephew, Ray Joseph Dandridge, also 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.

Dandridge was not charged in the Harvey killings.

Gray was found guilty of 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.

Gray pleaded not guilty to the slayings, but his attorneys acknowledged during the trial that he confessed after being apprehended Jan. 7 by police in Philadelphia at the home of Dandridge’s father.

The defense did not call any witnesses in the trial and contested none of the facts of the commonwealth’s case during closing arguments.

“I really don’t know how I was able to do that,” Gray told police in his confession. “I don’t believe sorry is strong enough. None of this was necessary.”

The jury’s decision followed two days of graphic testimony that revealed chilling details of the Harveys’ final hours.

Medical examiner Darin Trelka, who performed autopsies on the victims, described the Harveys’ extensive injuries and showed autopsy photos that left several jurors looking shaken and one in tears.

Mr. Harvey’s neck was cut eight times in a sawing motion, but none of those injuries was fatal, Dr. Trelka testified. His body had “very severe” burns in several places, and his head was struck six times with a claw hammer. Prosecutor Matthew Geary demonstrated the blows by banging the hammer into the palm of his hand six times counting each out loud for effect.

Mrs. Harvey also was stabbed and had saw-motion wounds to her neck, none of which was fatal, Dr. Trelka testified. She had injuries to her head and was burned, he said.

Dr. Trelka also described horrific injuries to Ruby, who died from skull fractures and a stab wound to the back, and Stella, who died from smoke inhalation and a blow to the head.

Mrs. Harvey’s half-brother, actor Steven Culp, who played Rex Van De Kamp on “Desperate Housewives,” wept as Dr. Trelka described Mrs. Harvey’s injuries.

Gray sat silently in his chair, fidgeting and occasionally rocking back and forth during the testimony.

A forensic scientist testified yesterday that DNA consistent with Gray was found on the inside of a pair of bloody boots and DNA tests on the blood were consistent with Bryan and Stella Harvey.

According to Gray’s confession, he and two accomplices were looking for a house to rob on New Year’s Day when they noticed the Harveys’ front door was open.

Gray confessed to forcing the family members into the basement, tying them up with tape and extension cords and killing them. He then used wine bottles to set the house on fire in an attempt to cover up his crimes.

“It was an open door, a front door, that brought Ricky Gray into their home,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring said during closing arguments. “He came into that house, and he invaded what was clearly a household of love and peace. What Mr. Gray brought was nothing but sadness, despair and destruction.”

Mr. Herring showed the jury photographs of the family in happier times and included a final image of four headshots of the family members before they were killed and four headshots of the family after. “It was merciless, it was calculating, and it was mean,” Mr. Herring said.

Dandridge has been charged with capital murder in the Jan. 6 killings of Percyell Tucker, 55, his wife, Mary Baskerville-Tucker, 47, and her daughter, Ashley Baskerville, 21.

They were found in their home, bound, with their throats cut. Dandridge is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 18.

The ex-convicts, both of Arlington, also have been charged in the slashing assault and robbery of an Arlington man on New Year’s Eve and with a Jan. 3 home-invasion robbery in Chesterfield County. They are considered suspects in several other violent crimes, including the Nov. 5 killing of Gray’s wife, Treva Terrell Gray, who was found asphyxiated near woods in Washington, Pa., about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Harvey was a guitarist and singer for the rock duo House of Freaks and a well-known member of the Richmond music scene. Mrs. Harvey was the co-owner of World of Mirth, an offbeat toy and novelty store in Richmond.

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