President Bush has made a very rare move accepting the recommendation from the Secretary of the Army to approve the death sentence for Army Private Ronald Gray after a general court marshal for multiple murders and rapes. The crimes were committed while Private Gray was an active member of the United States Armed Services in Fayetteville, North Carolina between April 1986 and January 1987. Private Gray was convicted of committing two murders an attempted murder and three rapes.
“While approving a sentence of death for a member of our Armed Services is a serious and difficult decision for a Commander-In-Chief, the President believes the facts of this case leave no doubt that the sentence is just and warranted,” White House officials said in a statement Monday evening.
The last President to act on a military death sentence was President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957. It was carried out in 1961. In that case, an Army private was convicted of raping and attempting to murder an 11-year-old Austrian girl. The private was hanged.
The death penalty was banned between 1972 and 1984, when President Ronald Reagan reinstated capital punishment.
In the military justice system a member of the armed forces cannot be executed until the president approves the death sentence. It is the opposite of the civilian justice system where the president may be asked to exercise his clemency authority to stop an execution.
Reports indicate the military is asking President Bush to authorize the execution of Dwight Loving for his conviction of killing two taxicab drivers. Loving was an Army private at Fort Hood, Texas at the time. He has been in prison since 1989.
Six people are currently on death row at a US Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
What do you think about the Gray execution approval and the potential military death sentence approvals to come?