- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2006

RICHMOND — A judge sentenced the convicted killer of a Richmond family to death yesterday for his role in a series of bloody killings that left four other persons dead.

Circuit Court Judge Beverly Snukals followed the jury’s recommendation in imposing the ultimate punishment on Ricky Jovan Gray for the random New Year’s Day slayings of musician Bryan Harvey, 49, his wife, Kathryn, 39, and daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4.

They were found in the basement of their burning home — bound, beaten with a hammer and stabbed, with their throats cut.

“I cannot pretend to understand the loss of your loved ones. … I sincerely apologize,” Gray said as Harvey family members blinked back tears. “I beg you to forgive me.”

Gray, 29, was convicted in August of capital murder for the slayings. Judge Snukals sentenced him to death for the murders of Stella and Ruby and gave him life sentences for the slayings of Bryan Harvey and the family as a whole.

“If ever there was a case of a monster and a henchman, this was it,” prosecutor Michael Herring said outside court.

Gray and his nephew, Ray Joseph Dandridge, both of Arlington, killed the Harveys as part of a violent rampage that included the slaying of a second Richmond family less than one week later.

Dandridge, 29, pleaded guilty last month to three counts of capital murder for the Jan. 6 killings of Percyell Tucker, 55, his wife, Mary Baskerville-Tucker, 47, and her daughter, Ashley Baskerville, 21.

The victims’ faces were bound in duct tape, and the parents’ throats were cut. They slowly suffocated.

The men said Miss Baskerville was an accomplice in the Harvey slayings.

As part of a plea deal, Dandridge received a sentence of life in prison.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Everhart yesterday sought to downplay the prosecutors’ contention that Gray was the ringleader and argued that Dandridge was equally culpable in the slayings.

The two therefore deserve equal punishments, Mr. Everhart said.

“There is no reason to treat the two differently,” Mr. Everhart said. “Ray Dandridge has life, Ricky Gray should have life.”

But Mr. Herring argued that Dandridge is borderline mentally retarded and that Gray was clearly the dominant personality behind the murderous duo.

Further, he said, Gray is a calculating, intelligent killer, who methodically and viciously slaughtered each of the Harvey family members in cold blood.

“He butchered the neck of Kathryn Harvey while her daughters were watching,” Mr. Herring said. “He doesn’t deserve any mercy from this court.”

Gray blew a kiss and smiled at his mother as he was brought into the courtroom in shackles, flanked by guards. He stood quietly as his sentence was read, while his mother covered her ears and bowed her head.

Several friends and family members of the Harveys wiped away tears.

“We’re relieved to have this phase of the experience over,” Mr. Harvey’s brother, Mark Harvey, said after the hearing. “I don’t think anyone feels good about the outcome … [but] we’re satisfied.”

Gray’s father, Ellsworth Gray, said he was at peace with the judge’s decision.

“However it comes out, I’m going to leave it in the hands of the Lord,” he said outside court. “Ricky is fine. He has confessed to the Lord. [He] asks for no mercy, but just to be forgiven.”

Judge Snukals set an execution date of Jan. 25.

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