Scott County

Scott man takes stand in his own defense, denies killing parents

James Anthony Gray is on trial for two counts of murder.
James Anthony Gray is on trial for two counts of murder. Greg Kocher | Staff

GEORGETOWN — James Anthony Gray, the Scott County man accused of killing his parents in 2007, repeatedly told a jury Monday that he did not commit the crime.

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

"No, I did not," Gray said.

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

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

During 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 that "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."

Gray, 42, is charged with two counts of murder and tampering with physical evidence in the shooting deaths of James and Vivian Gray. The couple were found dead in their home on Cincinnati Pike near Sadieville in northern Scott County.

The defense and prosecution could present closing arguments Tuesday, then the case would go to the jury. If convicted, Anthony Gray will not face the death penalty.

Gray said he met with Scott County sheriff's detective Rodger Persley whenever the investigator wanted to talk to him, and Persley recorded those interviews.

"I had nothing to hide," Gray said.

During one interview, Persley told Gray, "You killed your mom and dad, and I can prove it."

Persley proceeded to show a lab report that indicated blood found on Gray's work uniform matched that of his parents. Persley said they also found evidence in a car Gray had driven.

At one point the phone rang in the interview room, and Persley answered it. "He said, 'No, he hasn't confessed yet,'" Gray testified.

"So, of course, I'm scared. I asked him, 'What is going on?' He said, 'That was the judge on the phone. The judge says we're going to make you a deal, and if you tell us what happened, we'll make sure you don't die.'"

Otherwise, Gray said, Pers ley went into detail "that I would fry in the electric chair."

Persley described how a person can "black out" and not remember a traumatic event, Gray testified.

Persley "said that's when you do things and you don't remember, you black out," Gray recalled. "Then he told me, 'You have to give a confession or you will die. The judge is not going to give you a deal if you don't tell us something.' ... He said, 'Look, here's the evidence. I can prove it.' I'm scared, because I think this is real."

Gray testified that he came to believe "I must have committed this crime. ... I felt like maybe I had done it because he had so much evidence."

Convinced that he had "blacked out," Gray recorded a video statement in which he said he had shot his parents. The jury watched the video statement last week.

Persley "made me rehearse my false confession until I got it to where he thought he could record it," Gray testified. "... I didn't believe I did it, but he had convinced me I did."

Barnes asked Gray: "Do you still believe that you had anything to do with this?"

"No, I did not have anything to do with this," Gray said.

Barnes asked: "When you made that statement ... and you said you were involved with your mother and father's death, was that true?"

"No, it was not true," Gray said.

The public defender asked Gray if that was "something you remember?"

"It was a memory put into my mind by Mr. Persley," Gray said.

Under cross-examination, Eardley pointed out many instances in which Gray's testimony contradicted previous statements to police. Eardley asked why Gray repeatedly referred to his parents' deaths as "an accident."

"Sometimes I do because I do not like the word kill or murder. It hurts me," Gray said. "... I don't like the word homicide or killed or murdered. It makes me think of losing my mom and dad. I'm trying to put it in a nice way so it doesn't sound as bad as it is."

The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Scott Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs is presiding.

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