The United States military has not carried out an execution of a prisoner sentenced to death since 1961, but that may be about to change, according to CBS News.
Former Army Spc. Ronald Gray, who served as a cook while stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in the early 1980s, appeared to be headed for the lethal injection chamber after a federal judge in Kansas ruled that his appeals and a stay blocking his execution had run their course.
According to the Fayetteville Observer, Gray was convicted and sentenced to death for a series of rapes and murders that he committed in and around the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area in 1986 and 1987.
Gray was convicted for the murders of cab driver Kimberly Ann Ruggles, Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickers-Clay, university student Linda Jean Coats and Army spouse and Fayetteville resident Tammy Wilson. He was also convicted of raping several other women.
If the military death sentence weren’t enough, Gray was also convicted of those and other crimes in a civilian court, where he received eight life sentences, three of which were to be served consecutively.
In other words, Gray will remain in prison until his death, whether it be by natural causes or by the actions of the military.
CNN reported that Gray was one of only six former members of the military currently on death row at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas, the most notorious of whom is former Army Maj. Nidal Hassan, convicted of 13 counts of murder in the terrorist attack on Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
All military executions require the express approval of the sitting president, and Gray’s execution seemed to be on track in 2008 when then-President George W. Bush signed off on a warrant authorizing the measure. However, a federal court stepped in at the last moment and granted a stay of execution, which has kept Gray alive on death row at taxpayer expense until now.
Neither the military nor Gray’s attorneys responded to requests for comment. A date for the execution is expected to be announced within the next 30 days.
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