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Georgia soldier convicted of two murders

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- A six-member military jury Thursday convicted a 22-year-old Fort Bragg soldier of murdering and raping two young women.

The same jury will reconvene Friday to consider a sentence. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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The jury returned unanimous verdicts convicting Specialist 4th Class Ronald Adrin Gray of Cochran, Ga., of multiple counts of rape, murder, sodomy and robbery against the two young women at Fort Bragg.

The jury of three officers and three enlisted men will meet privately Friday to decide on a sentence for Gray, described by Army prosecutors as a cold and calculating killer who picked his targets and then brutalized and killed them.

Options before the jury were to find Gray guilty, not guilty and guilty by unanimous vote. Army prosecutors asked for capital punishment.

The all-male jury convicted Gray on 14 different counts under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The jury, which heard testimony for two weeks, deliberated for three hours Wednesday,and resumed Thursday morning until reaching its decision announced to the court at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Gray was convicted of murdering, raping and sodomizing 18-year-old Army Private Laura Lee Vickery Clay on Dec. 15, 1986. Clay was shot to death at Fort Bragg.

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Gray was also convicted of murdering, raping, robbing and sodomizing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, who was stabbed to death on Jan. 6, 1987 at Fort Bragg.

The Army also alleges in a separate case that Gray committed rape, robbery and attempted murder on Jan. 3, 1987 against Army Pvt. Mary Ann Nameth, formerly Mary Ann Lang, in her Fort Bragg barracks.

Nameth, 20, who identified Gray in court testimony as her attacker, was among spectators in court Wednesday.

Pointing to Gray from the stand as her rapist, she said the defendant told her not to cry for help as he left, although she was gagged and her hands were tied behind her back with an electrical cord.

Army Prosecutor Maj. C. Douglas Goins called Gray a calculating murderer who coldly and carefully chose victims to rape, rob and kill.

'You don't stab some one three times in the neck and once in the side, leave them tied up and gagged and expect them to live. It doesn't make sense,' Goins said in his closing argument to the court.

Defense counsel Capt. Craig Teller said that although the evidence placed Gray in a bad light, much of it was circumstantial.

'No one saw this accused kill Pvt. Clay or Miss Ruggles,' Teller said.

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Defense lawyers will be allowed to submit mitigating testimony during the second sentencing phase of the trial beginning Friday morning.

Gray received eight life sentences Nov. 6 in Cumberland County Superior Court after pleading guilty to 22 felonies including murder and rape. Civilian officials said he could be paroled in 60 years.

Gray, assigned to the 3rd battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, has been in the Army since November of 1983 and stationed at Fort Bragg since April of 1986.

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