Crime

Scott murder trial is rescheduled amid debate about confession

GEORGETOWN — The trial of a Scott County man accused of killing his parents was moved to April on Thursday after a judge gave attorneys a month to submit written arguments on a motion to suppress statements the defendant made to police.

Circuit Judge Paul F. Isaacs scheduled the trial of James Anthony Gray, 40, to begin on April 5. It was previously set to begin on Jan. 4.

Gray testified Thursday during a continuation of a hearing from last week. Defense attorney Rodney Barnes asked the judge last week to suppress confessions Gray gave the Scott County Sheriff's Office.

It is not clear what happened in the interview room the day Gray confessed to the killings and was subsequently arrested, because the defendant's recollections differ from those of law enforcement.

For example, Gray says detectives took a phone call from a judge during the interview, then told him the judge would take the death penalty off the table if he confessed. Investigators testified that they never mentioned the death penalty during the interview or took any phone calls.

The bodies of James E. Gray, 63, and Vivian Gray, 55, were found the morning of April 26, 2007, in their home not far from the Grant County line. James Anthony Gray has been charged with tampering with physical evidence and two counts of murder.

Gray said he felt threatened by Scott County investigators during an interview on Oct. 20, 2007, the day he was arrested. He went to the sheriff's office that day because detectives wanted to talk to him about an unrelated forged will.

But the conversation soon turned to his parents' deaths.

Gray said detectives told him he was going to receive the death penalty if he did not confess to the murders. Investigators told Gray they had evidence against him, including gunpowder on the steering wheel of his Toyota Supra and his parents' blood in the car. The detectives have said in court that the evidence was false, but they contend that is a common practice used by law enforcement in questioning suspects.

Detectives even showed Gray a false Kentucky State Police lab report.

Gray said he repeatedly told detectives he did not kill his parents, but he said detectives kept talking about the evidence and the death penalty.

"I felt that they had either set me up or somebody else had," Gray said.

Gray said he was scared and intimidated in the small room.

"I believed if I didn't tell them something I was going to die for something I didn't do," he said.

Gray said detectives told him people often black out while committing crimes.

Gray said he was confused by all the evidence law enforcement officials told him about. He confessed, telling police he got into an argument with his parents then shot them with a firearm his father had brought into the living room.

Gray said detectives helped him put his confession together, including giving him information about the position of his father's body, before the confession was recorded. Barnes asked Gray about the use of the word "firearm" in his confession, and Gray said that isn't how he usually talks.

"He more or less mapped it out for me," Gray said of one of the detectives.

In his confession to police, which Barnes read from in court, Gray said he still did not believe he had committed the crime but must have because of the evidence.

Detective Roger Persley of the Scott County Sheriff's Office was one of the two detectives who interviewed Gray. He testified Thursday that investigators never talked to Gray about the death penalty.

Persley also said he did not know Gray had an attorney during the interview on Oct. 20. Gray said he told Persley he was being represented by Lexington attorney Fred Peters.

Peters testified last week that he was shocked to hear Gray was arrested following a confession because he did not know how the detectives interviewed his client without his knowledge.

"That wasn't supposed to happen while I was involved," Peters said.

Three of Gray's friends, including Rosa Rowland, who was dating Gray, also testified last week that Gray called them from jail after his arrest. Gray told them that police were threatening him but that he did not remember committing the crime.

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