Ruling on Ricky Gray's execution expected early next week

Published: Jan. 3, 2017 at 3:15 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2017 at 6:27 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond judge will rule early next week on whether the execution of a murderer by lethal injection is cruel and unusual.

Attorneys on both sides of the Ricky Gray case laid out their cases in court Tuesday. Gray, who was convicted of killing the Harvey family on New Year's Day in 2006, argued that the drugs to be used on Gray would "cause him severe and unnecessary pain."

Gray's lawyers argue the drug cocktail using midazolam and potassium chloride has never been used before. Midazolam is a sedative that in high doses can kill. But the defense argues that if it's contaminated in any way, it could lead to a painful death that is cruel or unusual. The Commonwealth argues the drugs are made by companies that meet federal and state regulations and were never cited for any violations.

In letters written to the prison system, Gray called Virginia's execution process a violation of his constitutional rights and would prefer to die before a firing squad, which would prolong this process even more.

"It is more humane and less painful than the lethal injection protocols," says Lisa Freed, an attorney on Gray's defense team.

The defense argues death would come quickly with a firing squad. But the Commonwealth says it would have to be approved by the General Assembly. They ended their argument by saying the nightmare inflicted on the Harvey family and the community must end now.

"It's hard to fault Ricky Gray for raising these questions for trying to delay his execution," said NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. Gray has unsuccessfully tried to appeal his fate.

"Ricky Gray has explored every single possible legal appeal or remedy available to him, but it eventually stops. There are some who would be so horrified at what they had done, they may choose to end their life, but Ricky Gray is fighting to preserve his," Benjamin said.

"We understand that the state and the people have an interest in resolving this," said Freed. "But by the same token, Mr. Gray and everybody should have an interest in having a form of execution that meets constitutional muster."

Gray's execution is currently set for Jan. 18. Judge Henry Hudson said he expects to issue his ruling on Monday or Tuesday.

It's been more than a decade since the brutal murders of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey, and their daughters, Stella and Ruby inside their home New Year's Day 2006.

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