The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the case of convicted serial killer Ronald A. Gray, meaning the former Fort Bragg soldier may be running out of appeals to his long-standing death sentence.
Gray's petition, filed with the nation's highest court in February, was officially denied on June 28, according to online court records.
The petition sought to answer several legal questions related to the case, which dates to the 1980s when Gray was convicted in a series of murder and rapes in Fayetteville and on Fort Bragg.
A reason for the denial was not provided.
Lawyers for Gray had asked the court to determine whether military or civilian courts should be responsible for hearing appeals in the case.
Gray has filed numerous appeals in recent years claiming errors during his military trial and subsequent appeals, including claims that his appeals lawyer was ineffective, his sentence was the result of racial discrimination and military authorities failed to disclose evidence about his competency.
Many of those appeals have been dismissed or delayed in recent years, as the case has been heard by officials from a U.S. District Court in Kansas, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
In a response to Gray's Supreme Court petition, government lawyers argued the correct avenue for Gray's latest appeals -- based on claims made outside of a direct appeal -- were in federal District Court.
But the government lawyers also argued that Gray's appeals have no merit.
Gray is the longest-serving inmate on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the only military prisoner whose execution has been approved by a president -- a necessary step before any execution can take place based on a case from the military judicial system.
Gray's case has been part of a nearly 30-year legal battle, which the Supreme Court also declined to review in 2001.
Appeals have taken on an added urgency since late 2016, when a federal judge removed a stay of execution that had been in place since 2008, potentially clearing the way for the Army to schedule Gray's death.
A former resident of Fairlane Acres near Bonnie Doone in Fayetteville, Gray was an Army specialist working as a cook before he was convicted of a series of rapes and murders that were committed in 1986 and 1987 on Fort Bragg and near Fairlane Acres Mobile Home Park off Santa Fe Drive.
Gray killed cab driver Kimberly Ann Ruggles, Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay, Campbell University student Linda Jean Coats and Fairlane Acres resident and soldier's wife Tammy Wilson.
Gray was convicted during two trials. A Fort Bragg court sentenced him to death in 1988, after convicting him of the rape and murder of two women and the rape and attempted murder of a third woman, among other offenses.
A civilian court in 1987 sentenced him to eight life sentences, including three to be served consecutively, after convictions on charges of two counts of second-degree murder, five counts of rape and a number of other offenses all related to different victims.
Gray has been confined at the U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, since he was sentenced to death.
If he is executed, it would be the first death sentence carried out by the U.S. military since 1961. An execution would likely take place at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana -- the same facility where, in 2001, terrorist Timothy McVeigh was executed for the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
This article is written by Drew Brooks from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.