Conviction in Brutal Richmond Slayings

The Associated Press
Thursday, August 17, 2006; 10:18 PM

RICHMOND, Va. -- 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 the basement of their burning home _ left one juror in tears and others looking shaken.

Opening the sentencing phase of the trial, the prosecution told jurors that in addition to the Harvey killings, Gray confessed to killing his wife and a second Richmond family less than a week later.

"Now you know why we want the death penalty," Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Learned Barry said.

The penalty phase was to continue Friday.

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.

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.

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