Scott County man set to go on trial in 2007 shooting deaths of parents

Son 'very likely' to testify, defense says

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJanuary 17, 2012 

Photo of James Anthony Gray who was arrested for the murder of his parents James and Vivian Gray. Jail Handout Photo

GEORGETOWN — A man charged in the 2007 shooting deaths of his parents is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday in Scott Circuit Court.

James Anthony Gray, 42, the only child of James and Vivian Gray, was indicted on two counts of murder in their deaths. If convicted, Gray will face a range of penalties, including life without parole; life without parole for 25 years; or life imprisonment, in which he would be eligible for parole in 20 years.

The death penalty had been an option until last month, when Commonwealth's Attorney Gordie Shaw said the prosecution would not pursue it. Shaw would not go into detail other than to say the decision met with the approval of relatives of the deceased.

It is "very likely" that James Anthony Gray will testify, said Rodney Barnes, directing attorney for the Frankfort Trial Office of the state Department of Public Advocacy.

On the morning of April 26, 2007, the bodies of the elder Grays were found in their home on Cincinnati Pike near Sadieville.

James Gray, 63, had been shot twice in the head, and Vivian Gray, 55, had been shot once in the head. Investigators have said there did not appear to be a break-in, and numerous firearms and other valuables had not been removed.

James Gray, an IBM retiree, and his wife owned land in Scott and Harrison counties. They also ran a store called Gray on Main that sold secondhand items. They had planned to build a three-bedroom log cabin near their home in Stonewall, a Scott County community near the Grant County line.

In addition to the murder charges, Anthony Gray is charged with tampering with physical evidence because he allegedly threw the .45-caliber handgun used in the shootings from a car after the slayings, according to an indictment.

Gray's trial has been postponed several times as the defense and prosecution resolved several issues regarding evidence to be presented.

In September, Scott Circuit Judge Paul F. Isaacs sustained a motion by prosecutors who sought to introduce Gray's statements about his desire to see his parents dead. The Grays had an estate worth nearly $1 million, and a will was never found.

Gray told Tammy Kidd in 2001 that he wanted to kill his parents, and he expressed to Kidd "that he had a lot of animosity towards his parents and that he hated his mother," according to court documents.

Gray also drove Kidd past his parents' house and explained to her how he planned to kill them, according to court documents.

In 2005, Gray told a subsequent girlfriend, Cynthia Neal, that "his parents were sick, should be passing away soon, and that he wanted to be there when it happened so he could get all their money and possessions," the documents say.

In addition, Gray told Neal that "if his parents did not go fast enough, then he might 'push them,'" according to court documents.

Two other public defenders on the Gray case, Doug Crickmer and Casey Holland, objected to the introduction of the statements, saying there were not relevant because they were made six years and two years before the deaths of the parents. The statements also did not show a specific intent by Gray to kill his parents on April 26, 2007, the public defenders said.

Prosecutors also intend to introduce "multiple confessions" Gray made to a fellow inmate in the Montgomery County Detention Center before Gray was charged in the slayings.

Last week attorneys debated the qualifications of a professor who, if given the green light to testify by Isaacs, will say that Gray falsely confessed to investigators about the killings. Isaacs wanted to read the professor's report before making a decision on whether he will testify.

Jury selection from a pool of 165 people will begin Tuesday morning.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

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