Captain accused of premeditated murder awaits decision on trial
August 14, 2008
DAEGU, South Korea — Army Capt. Christopher Gray murdered his wife with a lethal dose of an over-the-counter medication, stuffed her body in a suitcase and later dumped the corpse, a prosecutor said during a pretrial hearing Tuesday.
"He was sick of her lies, sick of her infidelity," prosecutor Capt. Robert McGovern said at the hearing at Camp Henry. "Her death was a crime of planning and meticulous calculation."
The severely decomposed body of Lea Gray, 27, was found May 9 off a roadside in Waegwan.
The couple lived with Lea Gray’s young daughter, Bianca, at Camp George.
A medical examiner testified Monday that Lea Gray died of a toxic dose of diphenhydramine, an antihistamine.
Gray, who had been assigned as assistant operations officer with the 25th Transportation Battalion at Camp Henry, is charged with premeditated murder, obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming an officer.
The two-day pretrial Article 32 proceeding ended Tuesday. It is now up to the investigating officer, Marine Maj. Steven Keane, to recommend whether the evidence warrants moving the case to trial.
Gray has been confined at Camp Humphreys since his May 9 arrest.
Gray’s expression revealed little throughout the hearing, except during an interval Monday when medical experts testified by phone in graphic detail about the extent to which his wife’s body had decomposed when found.
Several times during the testimony, Gray looked away to his left, lips pursed, mouth and chin trembling slightly, and appeared to be fighting tears.
On Tuesday, McGovern hammered Gray with a bluntly spoken closing statement.
"His life was falling apart because of her," the prosecutor said, after noting that Gray’s stormy marriage had begun affecting his Army career.
After a March argument in which Gray allegedly became angry and physical, the woman reported the incident to her husband’s unit, which banned him from seeing her and ordered him to move into bachelor officer quarters.
"His life, personally, professionally, was being affected," McGovern said. "He made a decision to kill her."
McGovern said Gray began a series of Internet searches on March 30 that have become a key element in the case against him.
The searches included such phrases as "how to tie up a person without leaving marks," and "duct-tape restraint," "soluble pills."
"He is thinking," said McGovern. "He is planning. He is considering. That’s premeditation. That is exactly how Lea Gray died."
Gray allegedly deleted the Internet searches but investigators were able to recover them, according to testimony.
An Army investigator testified Monday that on April 8 Gray bought duct tape, an enema kit, garbage bags, and sleep and pain medications, among other items, from the Camp Walker exchange.
McGovern contended that Gray killed his wife on April 20.
The prosecution Monday showed elevator camera footage on which Gray is seen struggling with the suitcase, and coming and going several times in the course of the night his wife disappeared. Highway cameras later allegedly showed Gray, wearing a blue golf shirt, driving into the Waegwan area, then driving back toward Daegu in the early morning hours of April 21.
Also that day, a South Korean man found Lea Gray’s pocketbook in a trash can near Camp George. He brought it to local police, who turned it over to military police at Camp Henry.
MPs traced it to the Grays and showed up at his apartment.
"He looked shocked," McGovern said, drawing on an MP’s Monday testimony.
Gray allegedly told MPs his wife had not been home for several days, but he didn’t ask about her well-being or the circumstances in which her pocketbook had been found, according to testimony.
Gray’s chief defense lawyer, civilian Richard V. Stevens, pressed two issues when it was his turn to make a closing statement.
He contended that agents of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command had failed to advise Gray of his rights when they questioned him April 25.
"Potentially," Stevens told hearing officer Keane, "all evidence after April 25 could be suppressed."
Stevens also said the defense had asked the government months ago to provide expert witnesses for the defense, but that none had been provided.
That, Stevens said, meant the defense had been unable to properly rebut the prosecution’s case, which turns heavily on such expert testimony, he said.
He asked Keane to either recommend a new pretrial hearing or to note the issue in his official findings.