- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

RICHMOND — It was just supposed to be a robbery, one of the men told police — an easy score that would rake in a little bit of money.

Instead, an entire family was left to slowly suffocate as they lay helpless and bound, their mouths and noses covered in duct tape, two of them bleeding from knife wounds to their necks.

“Something so simple became so complicated,” Ricky Jovan Gray said of that night during a confession to a string of bloody crimes he said he and his nephew, Ray Joseph Dandridge, committed — including the slaughter of another Richmond family less than a week earlier.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Dandridge, 29, charged with three counts of capital murder for the Jan. 6 slayings of Percyell Tucker, 55; his wife, Mary Baskerville-Tucker, 47; and her daughter, Ashley Baskerville, 21.

He is charged with killing someone during a robbery, killing more than one person at a time and killing more than one person in a three-year period. Opening statements in the jury trial are scheduled for tomorrow.

Gray, 29, was convicted last month of capital murder in the New Year’s Day slayings of musician Bryan Harvey, 49; his wife, Kathryn, 39; and daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4. The family had been bound, beaten with a hammer and stabbed, their throats cut and their bodies set ablaze.

Gray told police that Miss Baskerville was an accomplice in the Harvey slayings.

In his confession to police, Gray said that he, Dandridge and Miss Baskerville had been looking for a house to rob when they saw the Harveys’ front door open. After the slayings, they fled with a computer, a wedding ring and a basket of cookies.

The jury recommended that Gray be sentenced to death for the murders of Stella and Ruby. Formal sentencing is set for Oct. 23.

The Arlington ex-convicts were arrested Jan. 7 in Philadelphia at the home of Dandridge’s father.

Gray has not been charged in the Baskerville-Tucker slayings, and Dandridge has not been charged in the Harvey killings.

Autopsy photos presented during the sentencing phase of Gray’s trial showed bloody gashes to the necks of Mr. Tucker and his wife, and duct tape covering the faces of all three victims.

Medical examiner Darin Trelka testified the three slowly suffocated in about six minutes.

In his statement to Philadelphia police, Gray said that he and Dandridge had plotted to rob Miss Baskerville’s mother and stepfather.

The two entered the home along with Miss Baskerville in the middle of the night and taped up Miss Baskerville as part of the plan. After the couple was bound, Gray said that he and Dandridge ransacked the house and loaded up Mr. Tucker’s truck with stereo equipment, TVs and hair clippers.

“The next thing I know is we was struggling with the mom and stepdad and they was all cut up and dead,” Gray said in his confession.

Gray said he used a knife from the house to stab the couple, and Miss Baskerville was “choked out” and left in her room.

He did not say in his confession whether he or Dandridge choked Miss Baskerville and seemed at a loss for words when asked why she, too, had been killed.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “That things just played out that way is something, isn’t it?”

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