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Dec-02-2008 19:46printcomments

First Military Execution in 50 Years Delayed

Veterans advocates say the man's execution based on a signature from President Bush is illegal, and now the courts will take a closer look.

Private Ronald Gray
Private Ronald Gray

(SALEM, Ore.) - The first scheduled execution of an Army soldier since 1961 has been delayed, following a decision from a U.S. district court judge who granted a stay in the execution of Pvt. Ronald A. Gray.

We reported on November 23rd 2008, that in spite of the horrific crimes Gray is convicted of committing, his execution based on a signature of President George W. Bush is illegal. Gray was convicted in both civilian and military court, and the state court sentenced Gray to life behind bars.

Veterans advocates say Gray was judged by a 'jury' of his peers who had the death penalty as an option, and the jury elected to give him life sentences. Tim Harrington, a former Marine who works on behalf of other veterans, says the President of the United States over stepped his Constitutional authority by using his executive power to sign the execution order bypassing the conviction and sentence of the people. (see: Veterans Call First Military Execution Approved in 50 Years Illegal)

Harrington and others insist that Congress has the power to dictate and oversee the Navy and land forces, but they do not have the power to change the law of the land and directly over reach the Framers writings.

Gray was scheduled for execution December 10th at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. The order from Judge Richard Rogers signed November 26th, stays the execution to allow Gray and his attorneys to file a habeas corpus petition. This stay of execution will remain in place until a further order of the court is issued, according to a copy of the judge’s order obtained by the Army Times.

Gray was convicted of multiple murders and rapes that took place during the late 1980s in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area when Gray was a specialist with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.

Gray is the longest-serving inmate on death row at the U.S. military's Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On July 28th 2008, President Bush approved the order to execute Gray.

It was the first time that a U.S. president approved a military death sentence since 1957. The Army Times reports that the decision came after the nation’s highest courts upheld Gray’s conviction and death sentence, and two petitions to the Supreme Court during the appellate process had been denied.

The last time a military execution took place was April 13th 1961, when John A. Bennett was hanged for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

Gray is one of four U.S. service members on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth. Another remains under a death sentence but has since been moved to the Marine base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for ongoing litigation.

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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washington December 16, 2012 4:11 am (Pacific time)

Gray is my first cusin i would like to meet him before they kill him. he is skisofrantic and has 3 other siblins 2 brother and 2 sisters and they are all skisofrantic his dad was killed in a car wreck in 1997


PO SARGE July 7, 2011 7:57 pm (Pacific time)

I was his front line supervisor,at that time.I retired about four months later. I'm still not over it.

Editor: If you are inclined, please drop me an email, <a href="mailto:tim@salem-news.com">tim@salem-news.com</a>.  This is obviously interesting, and opens the subject of intense PTSD in the military that is not war-related but equally brutal in its own way.  Thanks for dropping by.

Tim King


Brian November 14, 2009 10:38 pm (Pacific time)

This is not a 'wrong man' case, Gray's heinous and prolific crimes were well-proven. Harrington and his colleagues simply hate the practice of the death penalty. Especially in cases such as this, the rest of us out here in the real world are thankful for the death penalty. It would be wonderful if those who so vehemently rail against the death penalty as a violation of the criminals' human rights and of the sanctity of life, would speak out as or more vociferously in mourning and outrage for those who were their victims. Alas, I have yet to see such a balance, as it would take away from the advancement of an underlying political agenda.


Me December 11, 2008 9:40 pm (Pacific time)

You should really get your facts straight before writing an article. I have personnaly worked at the USDB for more than a combined 8 years and know there are more than 4 inmates on death row. Considering that this would be an easy fact to check, how can anyone believe any thing else in the article?


John December 6, 2008 8:48 am (Pacific time)

Seems like Harrington and his gang are merely playing the devil's advocate here. These weren't "close call" cases, they were well tried, and even had Gray plead guilty himself. It's well known that soldiers are subject to both State and military/Federal law. He has served 10 years on death row, so he should consider himself lucky. We need to set clear deterants for individuals with such blatant disregard for life, the law and others. I say the execution was within warrant and should be upheld.


dude December 5, 2008 6:59 am (Pacific time)

Harrington is playing a shell game. Gray committed multiple murders and pled guilty to second degree murder for the ones committed off post. He was tried and sentenced to death by a military court martial for the murder of two female soldiers that took place on Fort Bragg. To say the sentence for the two off post overides the ones on post is foolish

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