US military could execute someone for first time in over 50 years

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Ronald Gray, a former US Army soldier has been on death row since 1988 for raping and murdering several women.  He may now face execution after a judge denied his bid for another stay of execution last week.

Judge J. Thomas Marten of the US District Court for the District of Kansas ordered that Gray’s previously granted stay of execution was “no longer in effect.”  This means that Gray can no longer legally block the military from carrying out the execution.

Currently, the military method of execution is lethal injection.

Gray could be the first person to receive a military death sentence since John Bennett in 1961.  Bennett was convicted of raping and attempting to kill an 11-year old Austrian girl.  He was then hanged at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas.

Gray is currently one of six ex-servicemen on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth.  The most recent person added to the group is former Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people in the 2009 shooting in Fort Hood, Texas.

Gray was convicted and sentenced to death in military court in 1988 for two murders and three rapes that happened near Fayetteville, North Carolina.  At the time, he was stationed at Fort Bragg and serving as a cook.  He also pleaded guilty to two more killings and five more rapes in civilian court.

In 2008, then-President George W. Bush signed a warrant authorizing Gray’s execution.  He would have been put to death then, but a federal court gave him a last-minute temporary stay.

No service member can be executed unless the death penalty is confirmed by the President.

Although Gray’s execution date has not been set, Army regulations state that one could be set within the next 30 days.

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