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Marlin A. Gray

Marlin A. Gray (September 29, 1967 – October 26, 2005) was convicted of murder and executed by the U.S. state of Missouri by lethal injection. His conviction was for being part of a group of four men who, on April 4, 1991, sexually assaulted and then murdered two sisters, and attempted to murder the sisters' cousin on the Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. Gray continued to protest his innocence saying that although he was at the bridge at the time, he was smoking cannabis in a nearby car. On December 9, 1992, Gray was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and was executed by lethal injection on October 26, 2005. He maintained his innocence to the end, although police showed on audio and video tape that he had recounted the entire event to them, admitting his part in the murders.


The events of April 4, 1991

On the night of April 4, 20-year-old Julie Kerry, 19-year-old Robin Kerry and their 19-year-old cousin, Thomas Cummins, were on the Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River. Gray, Antonio Richardson, Reginald Clemons, and Daniel Winfrey went to the bridge that night together. The two groups, who did not know each other, had a brief conversation. Gray showed the other group how to climb down a manhole cover on the bridge down to the pier. Then the two groups separated.

The prosecution's allegations

According to testimony offered on behalf of the prosecution, several minutes later the group of four men decided to rob the three, with Winfrey testifying that Gray said he "felt like hurting somebody." They returned and Gray told Cummins that "This is a robbery. Get down on the ground." The two girls were grabbed and held on the ground. Richardson held Julie down while Clemons raped her and then the two swapped position. Gray, Richardson and Clemons then took turns to rape Robin and Julie. Cummins was then robbed of his wallet, wristwatch, cash, and keys, and the three victims were forced down the manhole cover to the concrete pier. The two Kerry sisters then were pushed, and Cummins jumped as instructed. Medical witnesses testified that Cummins and Julie Kerry survived the 70-foot (21-m) fall to the water below. Cummins testified that after surfacing, the current pulled him over to Julie, but then she drifted off after he began to drown. Cummins swam to shore and survived. The body of Julie Kerry was found three weeks later near Caruthersville, Missouri; the body of Robin Kerry never has been found. When apprehended by police, Gray had Cummins' engraved watch in his possession; Clemons had Cummins' firefighter's badge; and Richardson had left his fingerprints on Cummins' driver license.

Gray's version of the events

The version of events according to Gray is very different, and changed each time he presented it. In an interview in 2005, he said that after parting from the group of three, Gray went to a car where he smoked marijuana, while Richardson went to retrieve a flashlight (stolen by Richardson from a police officer's residence) he had left on the bridge. Gray returned to the bridge 30 minutes later to find that the girls and their cousin were gone. Richardson said that Cummins had said the girls had slipped off the bridge but thought the authorities would not believe this story. Cummins was then robbed by the men of his belongings. The version given by Gray at his trial was different, and also differs from what police said that he told them in his initial interview. On returning after 30 minutes in the car, Clemons informed him that "Man, I just robbed that guy and threw him and the girls into the river." Gray's mother testified that he was at home all night and never left their residence.

Defense claims

Both Gray and Cummins, who was initially a suspect, have said that they were physically abused during their interrogations. In the case of Cummins, he eventually would receive a $150,000 settlement from the City of St. Louis. Gray said that he confessed during the interrogations to raping the two girls in order that police stop beating him.

Gray's defense lawyers also argued that the prosecutor, Nels Moss, had made allusions to Charles Manson, when he described Gray's character witnesses as similar to "followers of Charles Manson." Moss also did not disclose the settlement with Cummins to the defense, since at the time there was no suit and therefore no settlement. They also argued that it was inappropriate for the prosecutor to tell the jury that theirs was not the final word in the case.

Gray's father claims that the conviction and sentence were racially motivated.

Trial and appeals

Daniel Winfrey, who was 15 years old at the time, confessed to the murder in the presence of police and his parents. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and forcible rape and testified against the other three in their trials. He was sentenced to a 30-year sentence. He testified that Clemons and Richardson were the ones who had pushed the two girls. Winfrey was the only white member of the convicted group, which has been raised as a criticism since he was the main prosecution witness[1]

Winfrey received a parole in the summer of 2007; when released, he had served 15 years.

For his part, Clemons was sentenced to death and still is on death row.

Richardson was also given a death sentence but had his sentence commuted to life in prison by the Supreme Court of Missouri on October 28, 2003, which cited his sentencing by a judge rather than a jury, in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, a case which was decided long after the imposition of sentence. Richardson had been the focus of strenuous efforts by death penalty opponents due to his mental deficiencies. (He has an IQ of 75.) and because of his youth at the time of the murders, even though his own psychologist and his mother testified that he "know[s] the difference between right and wrong." In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that executions of persons who committed their crimes as juveniles were unconstitutional.

Gray's execution date was set by the Missouri Supreme Court on September 26, 2005. Governor Matt Blunt denied Gray clemency on October 25 after a recommendation by the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole not to do so. That same day, the Supreme Court of the United States denied his motions to stay his execution.

Gray asked that no member of his family witness the execution, which he described as "murder," although a female cousin and a minister were present. The only witness for the victims present at the execution was Kevin Cummins, the uncle of the two girls. Gray also made no last meal request and gave no instructions for the disposal of his body. His final statement: "I go forward now on wings built by the love and support of my family and friends. I go with a peace of mind that comes from never having taken a human life. I forgive those who have hardened their hearts to the truth and I pray they ask forgiveness, for they know not what they do. This is not a death, it is a lynching."

See also


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