Jul 28, 2008

Bush approves execution of soldier

The soldier, Ronald Gray committed multiple rapes and homicide's in the 1980's while stationed at Fayetteville AR. Gray has been on the military's death row for 20 years. From Politico:

• In the military justice system, a member of the Armed Forces cannot be executed until the President “approves” the death sentence. Thus, unlike the civilian context, where the President may be asked to exercise his clemency authority to stop an execution, in the military system, the President effectively orders the execution. This is an important distinction.

• This is very rare. The last President to act on a military death sentence was John F. Kennedy in 1962, when he commuted a death sentence to confinement for life. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the last military execution in 1957; it was carried out in 1961.

• In accordance with the UCMJ, the Secretary of the Army submitted a formal recommendation to the President recommending he approve the sentence.

Facts of this case

Army Private Ronald A. Gray engaged in a spree of four murders and eight rapes in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area between April 1986 and January 1987.

• Gray pleaded guilty to two murders and five rapes (in addition to other offenses) in North Carolina State court; he was sentenced to three consecutive, and five concurrent, life terms.

• Gray was then tried by general court-martial at Fort Bragg (82d Airborne Division) for separate offenses involving three women, two of whom served in the U.S. Army, one of whom was a civilian. ...

• In April 1988, the court-martial convicted Gray of premeditated murder (two specifications) and unanimously sentenced him to death. Since then, his sentence has been approved by his command, the Army Court of Military Review, and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The Supreme Court has denied certiorari.

• In accordance with the UCMJ, the Secretary of the Army recommended the President approve the sentence.

• Although not required by statute, the President asked the Attorney General to confirm that the President had full legal authority to approve, commute, or remit the death sentence.

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