RICHMOND, Va. — Two of Virginia’s death row inmates were turned away by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
The high court declined to hear the appeals of Ivan Teleguz, who was convicted of hiring a man to kill his ex-girlfriend; and Ricky Gray, who was found guilty of killing a family of four in a home-invasion robbery on New Year’s Day in 2006.
Teleguz, who claims he is innocent, now plans to ask Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to halt his execution.
“The court’s decision has no impact on the significant evidence of Mr. Teleguz’s innocence, which includes the admissions of two critical prosecution witnesses that they lied at trial,” Attorney Michael Williams said in an email. “Gov. McAuliffe will have the opportunity to consider that evidence during the clemency process as he decides whether to prevent the Commonwealth from executing an innocent man.”
Teleguz, 37, wanted another chance to show that his 2006 trial attorneys were inadequate because they introduced testimony that Teleguz was involved in another murder that he says never happened.
Gray, 39, argued that he didn’t get a fair trial because his attorneys failed to tell jurors that he was high on PCP at the time of the killing, that a statement he gave police was obtained improperly; and that a juror was tainted because he spoke to a medical ethicist about whether the oath he took to become a doctor would prevent him from serving on the jury in a capital murder case.
Gray was convicted of killing Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters, 9-year-old Stella and 4-year-old Ruby, while invading their home in Richmond. Bryan was a musician and Kathryn was co-owner of the World of Mirth toy store.
Trial evidence showed that the Harveys were preparing to host friends for a holiday chili dinner when Gray and another man spotted their open front door. They tied the family up in their basement, where they were stabbed and beaten to death before their house was set on fire. Gray claims he doesn’t remember the killings because he was high on PCP. The other man was sentenced to life in prison.
The American Bar Association had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Gray’s case, arguing that the Virginia Supreme Court violated his right to adequate post-conviction review by rejecting his appeal without holding an evidentiary hearing.
Rob Lee, an attorney for Gray, said his legal team will look at other options after reviewing the impact of Monday’s decision.
“In Mr. Gray’s case, the question remains whether jurors were deprived of truthful information, raising doubts about Mr. Gray’s culpability. This refusal to vigorously seek the truth should prevent an execution based on such a fundamentally flawed decision,” Lee said in an email.
Attorneys for Teleguez, who was convicted of hiring another man to kill Stephanie Snipe, said two key prosecution witnesses recanted after his trial, raising serious questions about his guilt. An appeals court in 2012 ordered a hearing on his innocence claim. The judge refused to overturn his conviction after one of the witnesses refused to testify and the other didn’t show up.
Follow Alanna Durkin Richer on Twitter at twitter.com/aedurkinricher. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/alanna-durkin-richer .