Ricky Gray makes last-minute appeal to U.S. Supreme Court to stay execution

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017 at 2:45 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced on Tuesday he would not intervene to stop the execution of convicted murderer Ricky Gray. Now Gray is appealing to the Supreme Court to stay the execution.

Attorneys for Ricky Gray filed an emergency application for a stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, saying the Virginia Department of Corrections plans to carry out an "experimental and unconstitutional method of execution." They have asked the Supreme Court to "intervene to preserve its jurisdiction to review the merits of [Mr. Gray's] claims and to prevent Respondents from achieving their goal of 'running out the clock' by executing Mr. Gray using the very method of execution Mr. Gray alleges is unconstitutional and which is currently under review in the federal courts."

Gray is currently at Greensville Correctional Center where he is scheduled to be executed at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

"After a thorough review of the petition for clemency submitted by Ricky Gray and the various letters submitted by other parties, I have decided not to intervene in this case," said Gov. McAuliffe. "Mr. Gray was convicted in a fair and impartial trial, and a jury sentenced him to death in accordance with Virginia law. Federal and state appellate courts have extensively reviewed his case and denied his requested relief. Unless a court intervenes, the Department of Corrections will carry out the execution in accordance with the order of the sentencing court."

A Federal Appeals Court ruled on Friday against a request to delay the execution on the grounds lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. Attorneys for Gray have vowed to continue fighting efforts to use lethal injection to carry out the case. They were joined by the ACLU on Friday in saying the use of the drug cocktail planned to be used in the execution is cruel and unusual. The Commonwealth says the drugs are made by companies that meet federal and state regulations and were never cited for any violations.

"It is the Governor's responsibility to ensure that the laws of the Commonwealth are properly carried out unless circumstances merit a stay or commutation of the sentence. After extensive review and deliberation, I have found no such circumstances," said McAuliffe. "I will continue to pray for all of the individuals and families affected by these tragic and horrible crimes."

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.

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.

A video released this week includes audio of Ricky Gray expressing his remorse for killing the Harvey family.

"I know my words can't bring anything back, but I continuously feel horrible for the circumstances that I put them through," said Gray. "I robbed them of a lifelong supply of joy. I've stolen Christmas, birthdays, and Easters, Thanksgivings, graduations, and weddings, children. There's nothing I can do to make up for that."

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