RICHMOND, Va. – A man accused of suffocating a family of three methodically wrapped his victims' faces in duct tape, ransacked their home and then drove off while snacking on food he stole from their refrigerator, a prosecutor said Monday.
"He killed them!" prosecutor Matthew Geary said in opening statements, pointing at Ray Joseph Dandridge. "These people lay there three or four minutes before they lost consciousness — unable to breathe, helpless."
Dandridge, 29, is charged with three counts of capital murder for the Jan. 6 killings of Percyell Tucker, 55, his wife, Mary Baskerville-Tucker, 47, and her daughter, Ashley Baskerville, 21. He is charged with killing someone during a robbery, killing more than one person at a time and killing more than one person in a three-year period.
Prosecutors say Dandridge and his uncle, Ricky Jovan Gray, killed the family as part of a bloody crime spree that included the slaughter of a second Richmond family less than a week earlier.
Gray, also 29, was convicted last month of capital murder in the New Year's Day slayings of musician Bryan Harvey, 49, his wife, Kathryn, 39, and daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4. The family had been bound, beaten with a hammer and stabbed, their throats cut and their bodies set ablaze.
Gray told police Ashley Baskerville was an accomplice in the Harvey slayings. He could get the death penalty when he is sentenced next month.
Dandridge and Gray, both ex-convicts, were arrested Jan. 7 in Philadelphia at the home of Dandridge's father. Gray has not been charged in the Baskerville-Tucker slayings, and Dandridge has not been charged in the Harvey killings.
In a statement to Philadelphia police, Gray said he, Dandridge and Baskerville had plotted to rob Baskerville's mother and stepfather. The trio entered the home in the middle of the night and taped Baskerville up as part of the plan.
Gray said he and Dandridge ransacked the house, but the couple fought back and were eventually killed. Baskerville was also killed, but Gray could not explain to police why.
Winding a roll of duct tape around a cardboard tube for effect, Geary told the jury during Monday's opening statements that Dandridge methodically wrapped tape around all three of his terrified victims' faces. A medical examiner testified during Gray's trial that the three slowly suffocated in six minutes.
"Over and over again, he winds, he winds, he winds, he winds," Geary said softly, prompting several of the victims' loved ones to leave the courtroom, overcome with emotion.
In the defense's opening statements, attorney Claire Cardwell suggested Dandridge may not have been accurate in his confession to Philadelphia police.
"Many times (the police) relied on the assumption that everything he said was true," Cardwell said.
Gray also confessed to the Nov. 5 death of his 35-year-old wife. In his confession, Gray said he beat his wife to death in their bed with a piece of pipe while Dandridge held her down.