A man was executed in Virginia for the murder of two young girls and their parents.
Ricky Gray, 39, was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia, reports the Daily Mail.
As he walked into the execution chamber and asked if he he had any final words, he responded, “Nope.”
Gray was sentenced to death for the murder of 9-year-old Stella Harvey and her 4-year-old sister, Ruby, and was also convicted of killing their parents, Bryan and Kathryn Harvey. Bryan was in a rock band called House of Freaks, while Kathryn was co-owner of a toy store in Richmond, Virginia, the World of Mirth.
The family was preparing for a New Year’s Day party when Gray and his nephew, Ray Dandridge, entered their home and attacked them during a robbery. The two children and their parents were tied up in the basement, and Gray cut their throats and smashed their heads with a hammer, then set the house on fire. A computer, a wedding ring and some cookies were the only items stolen.
Gray was executed by lethal injection, which appeared to take longer than usual. This raised some concerns about the drugs used in the process.
He is the first prisoner in Virginia to be executed using the controversial three-drug cocktail of Midazolam, Rocuronium Bromide and Potassium Chloride. The lethal injection plan had been challenged by Gray’s attorneys, who claimed that even a firing squad would be more humane.
Critics of the drugs used in Gray’s execution note that Midazolam has been problematic in executions in other states, claiming it causes a painful death because it cannot reliably render the person unconscious. The fact that it was obtained from a compounding pharmacy rather than a manufacturer increases the risk of complications, his attorneys added.
Gray’s attorneys requested the U.S. Supreme Court delay the execution, but the request was denied on the evening of the execution.
One of Gray’s lawyers, Elizabeth Peiffer, said her client had been “trying to make amends and make life better for others.” In a statement issued by his lawyers prior to his execution, Gray said:
“I’ve stolen Christmas, birthdays and Easters, Thanksgivings, graduations and weddings, children. There’s nothing I can do to make up for that … I’m sorry they had to be a victim of my despair.”
According to a Pew Research poll published in September 2016 poll, less than one-half of Americans said they support the death penalty, reports The New York Times.