IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Man convicted of 4 murders in Virginia

A man was convicted Thursday of the random mutilation killings of a musician and his family. Lawyers for Ricky Jovan Gray, 29, offered no witnesses and admitted he confessed to the New Year’s Day slayings.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A man was convicted Thursday of the random mutilation killings of a musician and his family, a verdict that took just 30 minutes to reach and could bring the death penalty.

Lawyers for Ricky Jovan Gray, 29, presented no witnesses and acknowledged he confessed to the New Year’s Day slayings of musician Bryan Harvey, 49, his wife, Kathryn, 39, and daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4.

Seeing photographs and hearing details of how they died — bound, beaten and stabbed, with their throats cut, in basement of their burning home — left one juror in tears and others looking shaken. They could recommend that Gray be executed after the trial’s penalty phase, which begins late Thursday afternoon.

Harvey family supporters blinked back tears of relief and nodded in affirmation of the guilty verdict. Gray stood stoically, his hands behind his back.

The Harveys were well known in Richmond: Bryan was a guitarist and singer for the rock duo House of Freaks, which released five albums between 1987 and 1995, and Kathryn co-owned a quirky toy and novelty store called World of Mirth.

Open front door
According to his confession to Philadelphia police after his Jan. 7 arrest, Gray and two accomplices were looking for a house to rob on New Year’s Day when they noticed the Harveys’ front door was open. They would flee with a computer, a wedding ring and a basket of cookies.

“It was an open door — a front door — that brought Ricky Gray into their home,” prosecutor Michael Herring told jurors. “He came into that house and he invaded what was clearly a household of love and peace. ... What Mr. Gray brought was nothing but sadness, despair and destruction.”

Medical examiner Dr. Darin Trelka said Bryan Harvey was struck six times in head with a hammer, and that his neck was cut in a sawing motion eight times. His body also had “very severe” burns in several places.

Kathryn Harvey also was stabbed and had saw-motion wounds to her neck and burns, he said.

Ruby was also burned and had stab wounds to the throat and skull fractures, but it was stab wounds in her back that caused her death, Trelka testified.

Stella, who also was stabbed in the neck multiple times, was alive when the fire was set, Trelka testified. She died from smoke inhalation and blunt force trauma to the head.

Kathryn Harvey’s half-brother, actor Steven Culp, who played Rex Van De Kamp on “Desperate Housewives,” wept as Trelka described injuries to Kathryn’s body.

In a brief cross-examination, defense attorney Jeffrey Everhart asked Trelka if the blows to the head would have left the Harveys unconscious.

“Likely,” he replied.

Gray pleaded not guilty to the slayings, but his attorneys acknowledged his confession, called no witnesses and contested none of the facts of the commonwealth’s case during closing arguments.

“I can’t tell you why he did what the commonwealth alleges he did,” Everhart said.

Suspected in string of crimes
Gray and his nephew and suspected accomplice, Ray Joseph Dandridge, are accused of a bloody crime spree that began in November, including the killing of another Richmond family just days after the Harveys were slain. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for both men, but only Gray has been charged in the Harvey slayings.

Dandridge, 29, is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 18 on capital murder charges in the Jan. 6 killings of a couple and their daughter. A victim in Jan. 3 home robbery in which Gray and Dandridge also are accused has said the daughter killed had been an accomplice in the attack against him.

The defendants, both ex-convicts from Arlington, also have been charged in the slashing assault and robbery of an Arlington man on New Year’s Eve, and are suspects in the Nov. 5 killing of Gray’s wife, Treva, who was found asphyxiated near woods about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.