- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 9, 2007

RICHMOND — The Virginia Supreme Court yesterday unanimously affirmed the death penalty for an Arlington man convicted in the slayings of a Richmond couple and their two young daughters.

The court rejected Ricky Jovan Gray’s claim that a law allowing capital punishment for a person older than 21 who kills a child younger than 14 is arbitrary and unconstitutional.

“Although it could be argued as a matter of public policy that the age distinction between older and younger child murderers should be different or eliminated, that is a choice in our constitutional system for the legislative branch of government,” Justice G. Steven Agee wrote.

The bodies of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their children Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4, were found in the basement of their burning home on New Year’s Day 2006. They had been bound, beaten with a hammer and stabbed. Their throats were also cut.

Gray was convicted of five counts of capital murder: killing more than one person in a three-year period, killing more than one person as part of the same act, killing someone during a robbery or attempted robbery, and two counts of killing a child younger than 14 by someone at least 21 years old. He was sentenced to death on the latter two counts.

In addition to the death penalty for the slayings of the two girls, Gray was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of musician Bryan Harvey, 49, and toy store owner Kathryn Harvey, 39.

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 a week later. Dandridge pleaded guilty to three counts of capital murder in the second incident and was sentenced to life in prison.

Gray also is scheduled to stand trial in October for the murder of Sheryl Warner, 37, who was found hanging by an electrical cord in her burning basement in Culpeper, Va., on Dec. 18, 2005. He also confessed to killing his wife, Treva Terrell Gray, 35, in Pennsylvania that November, bringing to nine the number of persons authorities think Gray killed during a three-month period.

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