Death row inmate argues for firing squad days before lethal injection date

Death row inmate argues for firing squad days before lethal injection date
Posted at 3:07 PM, Jan 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 14:58:55-05

RICHMOND, Va. – You may not care how a killer is killed. But what if there was a way to execute convicted murderers on death row with a cheaper and more effective alternative than lethal injection?

According to convicted murder Ricky Gray’s attorneys, there is. The solution: a firing squad.

"[There is] a lot of support for the notion that it is more humane, and less painful than the lethal injection protocols, which we’ve seen time and again have resulted in botched executions all across the country,” one of Gray’s attorneys, Lisa Fried told reporters last week.

Gray was convicted of murdering Cox High School homecoming queen Kathy Grabinsky Harvey, her husband and their two young girls in their Richmond home over a decade ago.

Gray was sentenced to death for the crimes. His co-defendant, Ray Dandridge, was sentenced to life without parole by jurors.

“I’ve stolen something from the world,” Gray says in a recorded YouTube video, speaking out publicly for the first time. “It’s never left my mind, because I understand exactly what I took from the world by looking at my two sisters.”

On Wednesday, Gray will become the 112th person executed by the Commonwealth of Virginia since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court.

“I’m sorry they had to be a victim of my despair,” Gray continues in the video. “I robbed them of a lifelong supply of joy.”

Recently, Gray’s attorneys argued for execution by firing squad, but the request was denied by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now, Gray is facing death by lethal injection - a controversial drug cocktail which Gray’s attorneys say is “chemical torture”.

Court records say the state spent over $66,000 dollars to not only acquire the hard-to-get drugs, but to also help hide the identity of the pharmaceutical companies involved.

Additionally, Gray’s attorney cite sources which show lethal injection has a seven percent botched execution rate, the highest out of any execution option. The same sources show firing squads have a zero percent botched execution rate.

Now, only the Supreme Court or the Governor remain able to postpone Wednesday night's execution.

In an odd procedural circumstance, Gray's attorneys say his lawsuit alleging that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment is still pending in court. The Virginia Department of Corrections is supposed to respond to his allegations by January 24, six days after Gray’s scheduled execution.

"If [he] is executed on [Wednesday], the method of execution will be used without the court ever resolving whether Gray's allegations that it is a cruel and unusual punishment are true," Rob Lee, one of Gray's attorneys, told News 3 on Monday.

In the past, Virginia governors have not stepped in until all court proceedings are resolve, and Governor McAuliffe is likely to follow this practice