Virginia governor won't spare life of convicted killer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that he will not spare the life of a man set to be executed this week for the slayings of two young girls in their Richmond home on New Year's Day 2006.

Ricky Gray is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Wednesday for the killings of 9-year-old Stella Harvey and 4-year-old sister, Ruby. Gray was convicted of murdering the girls and their parents while the family was getting ready to have friends over for a holiday party.

The 39-year-old had asked the governor for clemency, arguing that the sexual abuse he suffered as a child and subsequent drug use provides an understanding of his actions that was never provided to jurors.

But the Democratic governor said he has found no reason to intervene in Gray's case. The governor said Gray received a fair and impartial trial and his case has been extensively reviewed by the courts.

"Unless a court intervenes, the Department of Corrections will carry out the execution in accordance with the order of the sentencing court," McAuliffe said in a statement.

Gray's attorneys called the governor's decision disappointing, noting that dozens of mental health professionals had also asked for his life to be spared.

"Ricky's execution will serve no purpose other than retribution, and it will add to the losses and suffering of members of our community," Rob Lee and Jonathan Sheldon said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Gray's attorneys also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution so he can continue his challenge to the state's plans to use lethal injection drugs from a secret compounding pharmacy.

Virginia will be the first state to use midazolam from a compounding pharmacy, his attorneys say. They say the state risks "chemically torturing" the man.

A federal judge in Richmond and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected Gray's efforts to put his execution on hold.

Gray and his nephew Ray Dandridge were looking for a home to rob on New Year's Day 2006 when they spotted the Harveys' open door. The girls and their parents, Bryan and Kathryn Harvey were found in the basement of their burning home, bound, beaten and stabbed, with their throats cut.

Gray also confessed to participating in the killing of 21-year-old Ashley Baskerville, her mother, Mary Baskerville-Tucker, and stepfather, Percyell Tucker, in their Richmond home less than a week later, but wasn't tried in that case. Gray and Dandridge said Ashley Baskerville had served as a lookout for them during the Harvey slayings.

Kathryn Harvey was co-owner of a popular Richmond toy store, the World of Mirth, and Bryan Harvey was a guitarist and singer for the rock duo House of Freaks. Perycell Tucker was a forklift operator and Mary Baskerville-Tucker worked at a dry cleaner.

Gray had asked McAuliffe to commute his sentence to life in prison -- the same sentence given to Dandridge, who pleaded guilty to the Baskerville-Tucker killings.

As a child, Gray was brutally beaten by his father with a PVC pipe and other objects and raped almost daily by his older brother, Gray's attorneys say. They say Gray began using powerful drugs at a young age to deal with the emotional effects of that abuse. While Gray's difficult childhood isn't an excuse for his behavior, it provides an understanding of his actions that should have been afforded to jurors, the attorneys say.

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