RICHMOND, Va. – A jury on Tuesday recommended a man be put to death for the random mutilation killings of a musician and his family during a bloody crime spree that left four others dead.
The jury's recommendation followed several days of graphic testimony in the trial of Ricky Jovan Gray, who was convicted last week of capital murder in the slayings of Bryan Harvey, 49, his wife, Kathryn, 39, and daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4.
They were found in the basement of their burning home, bound, beaten with a hammer and stabbed, with their throats cut.
Jurors, who met for 12 1/2 hours over two days, recommended death for the murders of Stella and Ruby and life for the parents' deaths and the family as a whole. Formal sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 23.
"All of this was one global, gigantic tragedy, but there's something particularly heinous and troubling about killing young girls," prosecutor Michael Herring said outside of court.
Harvey family members and friends wept and nodded in relief at the jury's decision. Gray's father, Ellsworth Gray, said afterward: "I'm OK with it and I'm sure Ricky is because he's made peace with the Lord."
According to Gray's confession to Philadelphia police after his Jan. 7 arrest, he 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 fled with a computer, a wedding ring and a basket of cookies.
Prosecutors say Gray, 29, and his nephew, Ray Joseph Dandridge, killed the Harveys as part of a two-month rampage that included the slaying of a second Richmond family less than a week later. A police detective from Philadelphia testified that Gray confessed to those crimes and others, including the November slaying of his wife near Pittsburgh.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors characterized Gray as a monster and menace to society. Grisly crime scene photos and graphic testimony detailing the injuries suffered by the Harveys drove many in the courtroom to tears.
Prosecutors also suggested that Gray was a flight risk, pointing to testimony from a city jail official that seven razors and a 36-foot rope fashioned out of strips of sheet were found in his cell.
But defense attorneys pleaded for mercy, recounting testimony from Gray's relatives who said his childhood was marred by physical and sexual abuse.
"The thing that set this case really apart from a lot of capital cases is the fact that two young children were involved. We knew that was a high hurdle for us to potentially overcome," attorney Jeffrey L. Everhart said Tuesday.
Gray had indicated he wanted to die for killing his wife and the Harveys.
"I'm sorry and I miss her and wish we could trade places," Gray told police when confessing to the pipe-bludgeoning slaying of his wife, 35-year-old Treva Terrell Gray, of Washington, Pa.
Dandridge, 29, was not charged with killing the Harveys but is scheduled for a Sept. 18 murder trial in the Jan. 6 suffocation of Percyell Tucker, 55, his wife, Mary Baskerville-Tucker, 47, and her daughter, Ashley Baskerville, 21. Gray told police Baskerville was an accomplice to the Harvey slayings.
Bryan Harvey was a guitarist and singer for the rock duo House of Freaks, which released five albums between 1987 and 1995. Kathryn Harvey co-owned a quirky toy and novelty store called World of Mirth and was the half-sister of actor Steven Culp, who played Rex Van De Kamp on "Desperate Housewives."