The Justice Files: No more second chances

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) –  Two months before Kenneth Gray killed an innocent man while driving, he was released from a drug rehabilitation center.

But once he was back out on the street, Gray returned to his drug habit.  Authorities said he was high on meth when he stole a BMW and ran from police.  It ended when Gray ran a red light and T-boned another vehicle that was at the intersection.

Michael Green was waiting for the light when Gray ran into him, killing him. Tuesday, three years after his arrest, Gray was in court for sentencing.

“I am so sorry,” said Gray while sobbing profusely.  “I can’t argue with anything the family said.”

His attorney said from the outset Gray understood what he had done and was remorseful.  Gray accepted a plea bargain and reduced the most serious of the charges from murder to manslaughter. At his sentencing, Gray apologized publicly for the first time.

“It never crossed my mind that I was endangering people’s lives in the community,” he said.  “I never meant for anyone to be killed.  I never realized how my choices would hurt anyone but myself.

Green’s family appeared by a video link for the sentencing.  But the judge did not allow them to be recorded as they read their statements. His wife and daughter spoke. The little girl spoke of missing her dad.  His son also was given an opportunity to speak but was too distraught to say anything. Green’s sister called Gray a selfish murderer who killed a good man.

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All Gray could do was listen and finally responded prior to his sentencing. 

“I’m sorry,” Gray said as he broke down in tears.  “I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I’m sorry.”

Gray said his troubles were a result of his drug habit.  Once again claiming drugs were at the root of his problems. Judge Vernice Trease also called Gray selfish and said his drug use wasn’t the problem.

“It continues to show that you have a lack of insight as to what happened her,” Judge Trease said.  “People get high everyday.  They don’t kill somebody driving on the streets at 106 miles an hour.”

She reminded Gray of his past criminal history involving drugs and the numerous chances he had to straighten his life.  He also pointed out that this wasn’t the first time he tried to run from police.  

“That is why these charges will run consecutive,” she said.

The Salt Lake District attorney originally charged Gray with homicide. But the plea deal reduced it to manslaughter. He also was sentenced for two counts of aggravated assault, failure to stop, auto homicide involving DUI/drugs, stolen vehicle, two counts of criminal mischief.  All are second degree felonies.  Each carries a minimum sentence of one and up to 15 years in prison.  He was also sentenced for two counts of possession of a controlled substance.  That charges carries a sentencing ranging from zero to 15 years in prison.  

As a result, Gray will have to spend at least eight years in prison but it will be up to the Utah Board of Pardons as to how many more years he’ll have to serve.

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Marcos Ortiz
Emmy award winning journalist and producer, reporter of the Justice Files seen nightly on ABC4, begining his career in Blythe California with stops in Green River and Cheyenne Wyoming. He was hired to be KGGM’S political reporter in Santa Fe, New Mexico before arriving in Salt Lake City in 1992 as a general assignments reporter before moving into the crime beat.

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