Topeka — A federal judge in Kansas has issued a stay in what would be the military’s first execution since 1961 so that an appeal by the condemned prisoner can be heard.
U.S. District Judge Richard Rogers issued the order Nov. 26 in the case of Ronald A. Gray, whose execution was scheduled for Dec. 10. Rogers has not set a date to hear Gray’s appeal.
Gray, 43, was convicted and sentenced to die in military court in 1988 for two murders and three rapes in the Fayetteville, N.C., area while he was stationed at Fort Bragg.
He pleaded guilty in civilian courts to two separate murders and five separate rapes and was sentenced to three consecutive and five concurrent life prison terms.
Attorneys for the Justice Department filed documents Tuesday asking Rogers to reconsider his stay order, saying Gray has had ample time to file an appeal.
In seeking the stay, Gray’s attorney, Thomas Bath, had argued that he couldn’t appeal until President George W. Bush signed the execution order in July.
Bath noted that it took seven years from the time the U.S. Supreme Court denied Gray’s request for review until Bush signed the execution order, starting the clock for further appeals.
The date and location — a federal complex in Terre Haute, Ind. — was approved in August by Army Secretary Pete Geren.