On New Year’s day of January 2006, Ricky Gray killed Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their 9-year-old and 4-year-old daughters during a home invasion in Richmond, Virginia. The family was well known in the city and he was subsequently tried for their murder and received the death penalty. Gray is scheduled to die by lethal injection in January 2017 and he has filed a motion to stop the execution by lethal injection. Instead, he has argued that he would prefer a firing a squad.
At issue is the deadly combination of drugs the state of Virginia will be using to kill Gray. The chemicals being used include a sedative — pentobarbital or midazolam — followed by rocuronium bromide to halt breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the heart. Executions in other states using a similar combination have resulted in the inmate suffering what some would call a cruel death as they gasped for air and writhed in pain. Gray’s attorneys have stated in a filing, “It is both more humane, quicker, more effective, and would frankly be completely feasible in Virginia.” They argue that there is a serious risk that Virginia will “chemically torture” the man to death when it uses compounded drugs. The state has reportedly spent $66K on execution drugs for Gray and another inmate. The state does not have to identify where the drugs came from under a new state law that shields pharmacy companies from possible litigation involving executions.
In Virginia, prisoners condemned to death may chose between lethal injection or electrocution for their death. Firing squads are not permitted in Virginia so it is doubtful that Gray’s request will be granted. His lawyers instead have asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to commute his sentence to life in prison, arguing that jurors did not hear enough evidence about Gray’s history as a sexual abuse victim and resulting drug use before they sentenced him to death