FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The sister of a woman murdered more than 30 years ago in Fayetteville says the news that a judge has lifted the stay for execution for the killer is “life-changing.”
Honey Rosalie Schlehuber of Chickasha, Oklahoma, tells The Fayetteville Observer that her entire family has struggled since 18-year-old Tammy Cofer Wilson was raped and killed.
“This is not just something you get over. It’s having to lie to someone when they ask what happened to your sister,” Schlehuber said. “To this day I can’t speak of it without tears.”
Judge J. Thomas Marten of the US District Court for the District of Kansas wrote last week that a previously granted stay of execution to former US Army soldier Ronald Gray was “no longer in effect,” denying his request to further block the military from carrying out the death sentence.
“This is life-changing news,” said Honey Rosalie Schlehuber,
“We’ve been waiting for years,” Schlehuber told the Fayetteville Observer from her Chickasha home.
Gray was convicted and condemned to death in military court in 1988 for two murders and three rapes in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area while stationed at Fort Bragg and serving as a cook. He pleaded guilty in civilian courts to two other killings and five rapes.
If Gray is put to death, it will be the first military execution since 1961, when John Bennett was hanged at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas after he was convicted of raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl.
The current military method of execution is lethal injection.
Gray came close to being put to death in 2008, when then-President George W. Bush signed a warrant authorizing his execution. But a federal court gave Gray a last-minute temporary stay.
While no execution date has yet been set, Army regulations state that it could be set sometime in the next 30 days. Gray’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.
“He ruined our family’s lives. We’ve been through so much,” Schlehuber said. “He needs to go and meet his maker. He needs to pay for what he’s done.”
Schlehuber says she’d like to witness Gray’s execution.
“I don’t feel like he should live,” she said. “He’s so evil. It’s just wrong. I would like to go and see him actually take his last breath.”