Scott man to be retried in 2007 slaying of his parents

gkocher1@herald-leader.comSeptember 16, 2012 

GEORGETOWN — Jury selection is scheduled to start Monday in the second trial of James Anthony Gray, the Scott County man charged in the 2007 deaths of his parents.

Gray's first trial ended in a mistrial on Feb. 1, after a jury of 10 women and two men were deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Gray, 43, is charged with two counts of murder and tampering with physical evidence in the shooting deaths of his parents, James E. and Vivian Gray. The couple was found dead in their northern Scott County home.

In the first trial, the jury deliberated and reviewed previously seen recorded testimony for more than 10 hours. They had been instructed to find Gray guilty or not guilty of murder or first-degree manslaughter.

Gray repeatedly told a jury in that trial that he did not commit the crime.

"Anthony, did you kill your mother and father?" asked public defender Rodney Barnes.

"No, I did not," Gray said.

"Did you have anything to do with the deaths of your mother and father?"

"No, I wouldn't," Gray said.

But under cross-examination, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Keith Eardley asked Gray why, during a 2009 recorded phone call from jail, Gray told family friend Jodi Lucas, "I do not want to be responsible for another death."

Gray answered: "If the person is ever caught that killed my mom and dad, I do not want them to get the death penalty because it is not in my religious beliefs."

James Anthony Gray will "probably" testify in the new trial, Barnes said Friday.

If convicted, James Anthony Gray will not face the death penalty because prosecutors took that off the table with the blessing of the Gray family.

The judge will be Scott Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs, who presided over the last trial.

Pretrial motions this summer have revolved around Peter Hafer, whom the defense portrays as an alternative suspect in the murders.

After he was found in possession of a number of handguns stolen in 2006 from a Cynthiana pawn shop, Hafer pleaded guilty in November 2010 and is now serving a sentence at a federal prison.

A July 2008 affidavit by an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says Hafer sold "a large number of stolen handguns to" the elder Gray.

Hafer did not appear during Gray's first trial because Hafer asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against testifying in the matter. Hafer will be unavailable as a witness in the second trial, too, according to pretrial defense documents.

However, Judge Isaacs ruled Friday that the defense can introduce evidence that Hafer believed the elder Grays had large amounts of money in their house, therefore giving Hafer a motive. Isaacs will rule Monday on whether the defense can introduce evidence that Hafer sold a large quantity of guns to the elder Gray.

Hafer gained national attention in February 2008 when he decked public defender Doug Crickmer in Scott District Court. Hafer continued to hit Crickmer in the face and stomach after knocking him to the floor.

That court appearance, recorded on a court camera, came after Hafer and an accomplice were charged with taking more than $51,000 worth of jewelry from the Georgetown Kmart.

Crickmer did not press charges, but Hafer was sentenced to six months in jail for contempt of court in connection with the assault.

The second trial of James Anthony Gray, including jury selection, is scheduled to run from Monday through Sept. 28. The prosecution has subpoenaed at least 51 witnesses to testify.

The defense and prosecution anticipate that jury selection will go relatively quickly, and that opening statements will be given either Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

The jury pool will have about 95 people. Jury selection will winnow that number down to 12 jurors and two alternates.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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