Scott County

Scott trial to include statements from women who say defendant spoke of killing parents

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

GEORGETOWN — Previous statements about wanting to kill his parents that James Anthony Gray made to two girlfriends in 2001 and 2005 will be admissible when he goes on trial in January for the murders of his mother and father, a judge has ruled.

Gray, 42, is accused of shooting his father in the head twice and his mother in the head once, and then disposing of the pistol.

The bodies of James E. Gray, 63, and Vivian Gray, 55, were found on the morning of April 26, 2007, in their Scott County home not far from the Grant County line.

Last month, 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.

Gray told Tammy Kidd sometime 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. "He said Kidd would wait in the car when he went in and shot them, they would leave (via) I-75, and Ms. Kidd would be his alibi," according to court documents.

Then, 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.

Gray's public defenders objected to the introduction of these statements, saying they were not relevant because the statements 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 argued.

But prosecutors argued that "several things" are "strikingly similar between" the deaths and the statements attributed to Gray. They said that Gray is accused of killing his parents by shooting them in their home and has said that he has an alibi witness, another girlfriend.

As for the 2005 statement, prosecutors said that it was made to another girlfriend, and it provided a motive in that Gray wanted his parents' money and possessions. The Grays had an estate worth nearly $1 million, and a will was never found, according to court documents. James Anthony Gray was their only child.

Isaacs agreed in his ruling that the statements were made several years before the alleged crime, but he wrote that "remoteness" isn't a determining factor as to their admissibility in court.

"In both statements there was evidence of motive and intent and in the earlier statement there was evidence of a common scheme or plan," Isaacs wrote in his ruling.

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

The trial is now scheduled to begin Jan. 3 in Georgetown, and will take up most of the month. If convicted, Gray could face the death penalty.

Public defenders have said they intend to introduce evidence relating to a "mental disease, defect or condition" that has a bearing on Gray's case.

In the same Sept. 16 order as the ruling on the two statements, Isaacs ruled that Comprehensive Care, which did a mental evaluation of Gray, could release to prosecutors only records that address Gray's mental capacity at the time of the alleged crime.

Prosecutors had sought the records because they think Gray confessed to the murder of his parents to people other than law enforcement officials, and that those confessions might be in those records.

However, Isaacs ruled that prosecutors are not entitled to any confession made to employees at Comprehensive Care because that would violate "patient-psychotherapist privilege."

Isaacs ruled that he would order Comp Care to provide any diagnosis concerning Gray's mental condition made by them in 2007 or after. "Nothing shall be disclosed in those records that contains any statements concerning the defendant's involvement in any criminal activity," the judge wrote.

In March 2010, Isaacs had overruled a defense motion to suppress a confession that Gray made to the Scott County sheriff's investigator.

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