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Murder suspect says his confession was coerced

By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email
By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email

James Anthony Gray was on the stand in a Scott County courtroom for more than four hours in his own defense. He says investigators told him to confess, or he'd fry.

After a morning behind closed doors, lawyers on both sides came back to the courtroom at noon ready to go. After rifling through a few other witnesses, 43-year-old James Anthony Gray took the stand. For more than three hours, his defense attorneys asked Gray about everything from his love life to his relationship with his parents and some of their close friends.

They also talked about the day in April of 2007 that a family friend, Jodi Lucas, found his parents, James and Vivian Gray, dead.
Soon after, he says he was questioned by sheriff's deputies. He testified he never refused an interview because he had "nothing to hide."

From the stand, Gray appeared confident and explained to jurors he was coerced into confessing to murder.

He says deputies told him they had evidence, including bloody uniforms, gun powder in his truck and witnesses placing him at the scene, so he'd better confess to murder.

Describing the mid-October interrogation with police, Gray said "He said you'll have to give a confession or you'll die."

Gray continued explaining what happened that day and what he remembers the deputy saying. "The judge won't give you a deal unless you confess. Look--here's the evidence. I can prove it. He kept showing me that document and I'm scared cause I think it's real. "

Gray also said the same deputy convinced him he'd "blacked-out" during the crime, causing him to forget what happened inside his parents' home.

Gray continued saying he finally confessed to avoid the electric chair.

"Um,  he made me rehearse my false confession to where he thought he could record it. The first one did not go right because in the middle of it, I couldn't go through with it. And I couldn't remember the adds he told me--- and then I got scared because it thought 'I'm gonna die because I messed up.'"

During the prosecution's cross examination of Gray, they said Gray confessed to the shooting deaths of his parents because he was indeed responsible.

Court proceedings ended just before 6:00pm Monday and jurors were told to be ready at 9:00am Tuesday morning. Court officials say closing arguments are scheduled for the morning and they're hoping to hand the case to the jury before noon.

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