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Harvey family murderer Ricky Gray sues over his ‘cruel punishment’

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RICHMOND, Va. -- The man convicted in the brutal 2006 New Year's Day murders of the Harvey family is part of a lawsuit that claims his treatment on Virginia's Death Row is "cruel and unusual" and thus unconstitutional.

Ricky Gray is one of five Virginia Death Row inmates suing the state seeking "relief from a mandatory regimen of spending almost 24 hours per day in their small cells, 365 days a year, and having almost no contact with other human beings."

"Mr. Gray is occasionally allowed out of his cell for very brief periods of time to cut the hair of other Death Row inmates," according to the lawsuit filed November 20 in the United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia. Gray and the other Virginia Death Row inmates hope to get new privileges that include more time at the prison's gym and "contact visits" with family members.

Their lawyer argues the inmates should get those privileges after another Death Row inmate, Alfredo Prieto, was granted them following a lawsuit of his own. The state prison system has appealed the Prieto ruling, according to a report in the Washington Post.

"[The] Defendants [Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections Harold C. Clarke and Sussex I State Prison warden Keith W. Davis] have been asked to extend the relief provided to Mr. Prieto to the plaintiffs , but have refused to do so," according to the lawsuit.

The treatment of Gray, and the other inmates, will "continue to inflict, great mental suffering as well as physical distress," the lawsuit stated. "It is unrelated to any legitimate penological goal, and constitutes a form of psychological torture that amounts to the gratuitous infliction of cruel and unusual punishment upon them."

Gray, and his nephew Ray Dandridge, are linked to deaths of nine people including the Harvey family (Bryan, Kathryn, nine year-old Stella and four-year-old Ruby), the Baskerville-Tucker family (Percyell, Mary and 21-year-old Ashley), Gray's wife Treva Terrell Gray and 37-year-old Sheryl Warner of Culpeper.

Ray Dandridge, who was convicted of January 6 murders of the Baskerville-Tucker family, was sentenced to life in prison. An execution date for Ricky Gray has not been set.

“He is a subhuman person who has no idea what he’s done and doesn’t care and thinks he deserves human treatment.  He is mistaken,” a close family friend of the Harvey’s told CBS 6 investigative reporter Melissa Hipolit when informed about the lawsuit.

The woman did not want to reveal her identity for safety reasons, but did say she dropped off one of the Harvey’s daughter’s at their house that New Year’s Day, not knowing Gray and his accomplice were inside.

“I don’t think Ricky Gray deserves anything. He’s lucky to have what he has.  Ricky Gray deserves to sit alone and think about what he did for the rest of his life, in my opinion,” the woman added.