Bonnie L. Gray, a federal worker who lived in Calvert County, was brutally killed by her husband more than seven years ago because she threatened to seek a divorce, a Charles County prosecutor asserted to jurors this week.
Assistant State's Attorney Matthew R. Stiglitz listed Gray's many wounds in court Tuesday: She was beaten at least 10 times with a blunt object; shot three times with a pistol; fatally stabbed in the heart; and all of her fingers were cut off.
Then, on a chilly evening in November 1995, James M. Gray wrapped his wife's body in a blanket, stuffed it in the trunk of her car and parked the vehicle on a gravel road in rural Charles County, Stiglitz said.
"This is a case about anger, it's a case about resentment, and it's also a case about a violation of one of the most sacred trusts in our society," Stiglitz told jurors in the opening arguments of Gray's trial on a charge of first-degree murder.
It is also a case that had been investigated, tried in court and disposed of once before. A jury found Gray, 42, guilty of first-degree murder in 1998, and Circuit Judge Christopher C. Henderson called Gray "mean" before sentencing him to life in prison.
The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned the conviction last year, faulting evidentiary rulings during the first trial. Now, round two of Maryland v. Gray promises to be slightly different from the first trial.
For one, it won't drag on for eight weeks and be the longest trial in Charles County history like last time, lawyers said. It will still be long, perhaps a month, but Stiglitz and defense attorney Brian C. Denton have been able to agree on several legal issues to save time.
And second, it is unclear whether the centerpiece of Gray's defense last time -- that a crack addict with whom Bonnie Gray allegedly had an affair killed her -- will come up. Denton did not mention the alternate suspect in his opening arguments to jurors.
But Denton did argue to jurors Tuesday that authorities in Calvert and Charles counties focused single-mindedly on Gray to the exclusion of all other possible suspects. Denton said there is no physical evidence linking Gray to the killing and there are no eyewitnesses -- points that Stiglitz conceded.
"Jimmy Gray is innocent of this crime because he didn't do it," Denton said.
Denton said he would call the Grays' 14-year-old daughter, Becky, who had told police that she saw her mother drive away from home the morning after prosecutors claim she was killed.
Stiglitz said Gray had the motive to kill his wife -- she threatened to divorce him the night she died, Stiglitz said. A divorce might have meant James Gray would lose the property he so loved to hunt on, Stiglitz said.