Scott County

Jury begins deliberations in Scott murder trial

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 — Jurors began deliberating Tuesday in the murder trial of James Anthony Gray, who is accused in the 2007 shooting deaths of his parents. A verdict had not been reached by press time.

Evidence in the trial showed Gray is innocent, public defender Rodney Barnes said during his closing argument.

Barnes said cellphone records show Gray was in Paris on April 25, 2007, the day the defense says James and Vivian Gray were shot and killed in their northern Scott County home.

"Anthony was nowhere near there when his parents died," Barnes argued.

But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Keith Eardley reminded the jury in his closing that the indictment and the prosecution have never pinpointed a day of death but have said the Grays died sometime April 24 to April 26, 2007.

Eardley did say that the Grays "probably" died the night of April 24, 2007, and noted that phone records show their telephone went unanswered the next day.

"Have we hung our hat on Tuesday? No," Eardley said.

Eardley said the first question an investigator asks is, "Who profits from these deaths?"

He noted that the elder Grays' estate was worth a minimum of $650,000. Anthony Gray was an only child.

"Who profits from these deaths? Only one person: Anthony," Eardley said.

The 10 women and two men on the jury began deliberations at 5:10 p.m.

The jury was instructed that it could find Gray guilty or not guilty of murder or first-degree manslaughter. If convicted, he will not face the death penalty, which prosecutors removed from consideration in December after discussing the matter with the victims' family.

In his opening statement when the trial started, Barnes had said Peter Hafer, an alternative suspect, would testify.

But Hafer did not testify because he would have asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, Barnes told reporters after the jury began deliberations.

Hafer, 34, is serving a sentence on a firearms charge at a federal prison in Maryland.

In testimony taken outside the jury's hearing, Jerry Quisenberry testified that a man named Jason Linville had told Quisenberry that Hafer had tried to enlist Linville in a robbery of James Gray, the father.

Hafer had previously sold a large number of stolen handguns to the elder Gray, according to an affidavit on file in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

Barnes had said in his opening statement that Hafer was scheduled to meet the elder Gray on the day he died.

The testimony of Quisenberry and several other witnesses was taken during the jury's extended lunch break to preserve evidence for a possible appeal.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader