The mother of a woman whose convicted slayer received a controversial sentence that confines him to the D.C. Jail only on weekends and allows him to keep his job as a systems analyst with the Army has asked the federal government to fire him.
Calling the sentence "outrageously lenient," the mother of shooting victim Carol R. Gray wrote to Army officials Monday asserting that Edward Strother should be dismissed from his civilian job, in part to "remedy the travesty of justice that allows an admitted killer to serve only a year of weekends in jail and to keep his government job."
An Army spokesman said yesterday that the request "involves a complex legal issue" and is "being reviewed carefully by military lawyers to determine what we are permitted to do under law and regulation."
Strother, 54, of Oxon Hill, pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in February in the death of Gray, 33, his former girlfriend, who police said was shot three times in the head at her D.C. home while her grandmother watched.
Although Strother faced a possible sentence of life in prison, D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie I sentenced him to 365 days in the D.C. Jail, to be served on weekends.
He also ordered Strother to pay monthly restitution to Gray's 6-year-old daughter and to take out a $25,000 insurance policy in the child's name.
The mother, F. Eyvonne Gray, has also filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court, seeking $30 million in damages from Strother for the "wrongful death" of her daughter. It charges that she has "suffered undue pain" since her daughter's death and that the 6-year-old child is "in need of medical and psychiatric care."
Advocates of alternative sentencing hailed the sentence, handed down on Feb. 15, as bold and innovative, while it was decried by Gray's family and others, including Paul D. Kamenar, executive legal director of the conservative Washington Legal Foundation, which is helping Gray's family seek Strother's dismissal.
Yesterday, Strother's attorney, Robert J. Pleshaw, said dismissal "would defeat one of the purposes of the judge's sentence, restitution to the daughter of the deceased." Strother, who has been making payments of $200 a month to the court for the child, would be jailed if the payments stopped, according to Pleshaw.
Kamenar said Monday, "If that does happen, no tears will be shed . . . but that's not what we're seeking."
In the letter, sent to Delbert Spurlock, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, Kamenar and Gray's mother said, "This is an unusual request, because convicted killers are normally incarcerated for substantial periods of time." However, Kamenar cited cases in which government employes were dismissed for off-duty crimes "less violent" than Gray's slaying.
According to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel E. Monteverde, such cases are handled individually, and generally the government must show that the crime is linked to a person's job performance. However, there is a category of "egregious crimes," such as murder, where "the crime is so serious that it is obviously going to affect the person's service or the confidence the government has in him," and the government may dismiss the employe even if the crime is not linked to his job, Monteverde said.