A man convicted of murdering his girlfriend would spend a year of weekends in prison and pay restitution to his victim's daughter under a sentence that D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie plans to impose next week.
Both the sentence -- 14 to 50 years in prison with all but 365 days suspended, and with orders that the defendant report to jail on weekends and pay restitution to the daughter of his victim -- and the way it is being handled -- the fact that Moultrie released the sentence before it is officially imposed -- are unusual. "It's unique. It's the first," said a court official of circumstances surrounding Moultrie's sentence in the case.
Although the official sentencing is not scheduled to take place until next week, court officials yesterday distributed unsigned and undated copies of Moultrie's order in the case to the news media.
The defendant, 54-year-old Edward Strother of Oxon Hill, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying of his former girlfriend last March.
Police charged that he shot Carol Gray, 33, three times in the head at her home while her 80-year-old grandmother watched.
Strother, who worked as a management analyst at the Federal Records Center and had no prior criminal record, claimed he could not remember the shooting.
According to a psychiatric report filed in the case, Strother claimed he never owned a gun and that "the shooting, if he committed it, was the result of a sudden and largely unpredictable breakdown" over the failure of his romance with Gray.
"The shooting then became for him a traumatic event with which he is currently trying to cope in his characteristic way," the report stated. Moultrie is widely regarded as one of the toughest judges on the court, and a court official described the suspended sentence as "certainly unusual."
Gray's mother, Eyvonne Gray, was quoted as saying she was "shocked" by the sentence. "I've never heard of such a thing," she said.
"I think Judge Moultrie should be ashamed to sit on the bench. He's a judge, not a social worker."
A court official said Moultrie had "agonized about what is the right thing to do in this case. I think he came across a case that just required something different from sending the guy away for 15 years." In his order, Moultrie said Strother "is not criminally oriented and it is highly unlikely that this kind of act will be repeated."
Under the sentence, Strother is to pay $2,500 initially into a court fund to support Carol Gray's 6-year-old daughter, Eyvonne Renee Mallett, and to contribute $100 to the fund each month for the next 14 years, plus an additional $100 monthly to the child's custodian.
Moultrie ordered Strother to take out an insurance policy of no less than $25,000 with the child as beneficiary.