- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2006

RICHMOND — An Arlington man accused of suffocating three members of a Richmond family methodically wrapped his victims’ faces in duct tape, ransacked their home and then drove off while snacking on food he’d stolen from their refrigerator, a prosecutor said yesterday.

“He killed them,” prosecutor Matthew Geary said in opening statements, pointing at Ray Joseph Dandridge. “These people lay there three or four minutes before they lost consciousness — unable to breathe, helpless.”

Dandridge, 29, is charged with 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.

Prosecutors say Dandridge and his uncle, Ricky Jovan Gray, also 29, killed the family as part of a bloody crime spree that included the slaughter of a second Richmond family less than a week earlier.

Gray was convicted last month of capital murder in the New Year’s Day slayings of Bryan Harvey, 49; his wife, Kathryn, 39; and their daughters, Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4. The family was 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.

The jury recommended 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.

In his statement to Philadelphia police, Gray said that he, Dandridge and Miss Baskerville had plotted to rob her mother and stepfather. The three entered the home in the middle of the night and taped up Miss Baskerville as part of the plan. Gray said he and Dandridge ransacked the house, but the parents fought back and eventually were killed. Miss Baskerville was also killed, but Gray could not explain to police why.

Winding a roll of duct tape around a cardboard tube for effect, Mr. Geary told the jury during yesterday’s opening statements that Dandridge methodically wrapped tape around all three of his terrified victims’ faces. A medical examiner testified during Gray’s trial that the three slowly suffocated in six minutes.

“Over and over again, he winds, he winds, he winds, he winds,” Mr. Geary said softly, prompting several of the victims’ loved ones to leave the courtroom, overcome with emotion.

Graphic crime-scene photos of the slain family were shown to the jury, painting a grim picture of what happened to them the night they were killed. Mr. Tucker was shown lying bound on the living room floor, his mouth and nose covered in thick layers of duct tape, his face covered in plastic wrap. His neck was covered in blood and appeared cut.

Equally graphic photos of a partially clothed Mrs. Baskerville-Tucker showed similar gashes to the neck and duct tape covering her face.

Miss Baskerville was found lying on her back, her mouth and nose covered in duct tape and a shopping bag placed over her head, Richmond Detective Martin Kochell testified.

During cross-examination by the defense, Detective Kochell acknowledged that several items from the crime scene were not tested for fingerprints and DNA. Among the untested items was a knife found in Miss Baskerville’s room, nail clippings from the victims and several rolls of duct tape.

Gray also confessed to the Nov. 5 killing of his wife, Treva Terrell Gray, 35, in Washington, Pa., about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. In his confession, Gray said he beat his wife to death in their bed with a piece of pipe while Dandridge held her down.

The two have also been charged in the slashing assault and robbery of an Arlington man on New Year’s Eve. They are considered persons of interest in the Dec. 18 slaying of a Culpeper woman and were charged in Chesterfield County with a Jan. 3 home-invasion robbery.

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