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First Military Execution in 50 Years DelayedTim King Salem-News.com
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.
(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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