Murder victim's mother 'glad that justice for Lea was made'
By FRANKLIN FISHER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 28, 2009
DAEGU, South Korea — Marilyn Bahena reacted Thursday with “mixed emotion” to the conviction of Army Capt. Christopher Gray in the murder of her daughter Lea.
“I’m happy and I’m glad that justice for Lea was made, for Lea’s death,” Bahena, 52, of Cebu, Philippines, said in an interview at Camp Henry in Daegu. “That’s what we’ve been waiting for. And for her daughter, too.”
Her granddaughter Bianca, 7, is not Christopher Gray’s biological daughter.
Bianca has asked who killed her mother, Bahena said.
“I told her, ‘She has an accident, nobody killed her,’” she said. “We told Bianca that her mom’s gone; she will never come back anymore, because she’s in heaven.”
When Bahena cried in the courtroom Thursday afternoon, she was in the hold of “some kind of mixed emotion,” she said.
“I’m happy because Lea’s justice has been made. Then at the same time, I’m grieving, because I lost Lea.
“I want to hit Chris. But I controlled myself. Because I am in the courtroom.”
On one occasion, Bianca heard her relatives talking about her mother’s murder, and also caught on that Gray was in trouble as a result.
“She heard us talking about she was actually murdered, so she did ask that question, how they murdered her mom,” said Bahena’s daughter Celeste Bahena, 29.
“She still calls Chris her dad,” Marilyn Bahena said. “So she is asking, ‘Where is Chris now? Is he in jail?’ I told her, ‘No. He’s still in Korea. He’s working.’ ”
Bianca “is doing fine and doing well in school,” Marilyn Bahena said.
But Bianca refuses to speak with “Daddy Chris” when he phones the Bahenas, her grandmother said.
He’s been calling regularly during the months in pretrial confinement, Bahena said. And, she said, he’s been sending $500 a month for Bianca’s schooling.
“If ever Chris will call, and if she is the one who will pick up the phone, she will hang up,” Bahena said.
When they’ve asked Bianca why she won’t talk with him, Bahena said. the child has answered: “I just don’t like to talk to him.”
Marilyn Bahena and her daughter were scheduled to go Friday to close Lea Gray’s bank account. They also were to face the task of entering the Grays’ former apartment — the one in which Lea Gray was murdered — to retrieve her belongings.
“We’ll go to the apartment for her stuff,” Bahena said. “Bianca’s stuff are there also.”