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Holmberg: Ricky Gray lethal injection questions can be answered by heroin epidemic

RICHMOND, Va. -- This week's legal complaint to halt next month's execution Richmond homicidal maniac Ricky Gray is an extraordinary document. Not only does it make a strong argument against the method of execution, it reveals details - perhaps true - that might explain why this guy turned into such a monster.

Lawyers fighting Gray's execution argue in great detail that the secretive, $66,000 combo of chemical compounds Virginia will use is untested, containing one component known to have been involved in disastrous and inhumane lethal injections elsewhere. Electrocution, they said, has also been proven to be cruel. They argue Gray should have the option to choose a firing squard - as the condemned can in Utah or Oklahoma - or a single-drug injection.

[Click here to read the entire document]

Part of it gives specific details claiming Ricky Gray, as a little boy, was routinely raped by his older stepbrother and beaten by his father.

Ricky Gray

Ricky Gray

Why that didn't play a starring role in the original sentencing arguments, I have no idea.

This is one of the reasons I'm against the death penalty. Over time, the killers become the victims. We see their faces and hear their stories again and again as their multi-million dollar appeals grind on. Meanwhile, their victims typically fade in the rear view.

But man, we all remember and mourn the Harveys right? Who could forget? So many of us knew and admired them.

We're told they would likely be against this execution.

The Harvey family.

The Harvey family.

But what about the other victims who have largely faded from most of our memories?

Thursday afternoon I talked by phone with Angela Tucker Lawson of Chesterfield, the daughter of Percyell Tucker, one of the innocent and mostly forgotten victims.

She said this whole thing has been a recurring nightmare that has left her numb. It's particularly unbearable, she said, because her step-sister - who was also murdered in the January 2006 spree - was running around with the killers.

She said Gray's appeals have been a waste of taxpayer money and completely unfair. The victims - those babies, she said - "didn't get to choose the way they died."

It's time, she said, for it to finally end.

I agree. Gray has admitted to being the prime mover in the torture and slaughter of the Harveys and the Baskerville-Tuckers, as well as previously murdering his own wife. He is believed to have killed at least one other.

And this execution doesn't really have to be all that complicated..

Every year, we inexpensively euthanize 7.5 million dogs and cats, most of them having done nothing wrong. I've watched this being done several times. It's so very sad, but quick and seemingly painless.

We can take those drugs, adjust for size and weight, and . . .

Or, perhaps you've noticed we've been having a historic epidemic of heroin overdoses. After a $10 or $20 shot of heroin, users can nod off and never wake up. It seems like that works all too well.

Yes, I'm against the death penalty. But we have it here in Virginia. We can do it cheaply, humanely and efficiently for the cases as clearly defined as this one.

Because if there's anyone on this planet who has earned it, it's Ricky Gray.