EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 28, 2013

Former Salem official fights for prison release

Gray claims new DNA evidence will exonerate him

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — BRENTWOOD, N.H. — Former Salem Planning Board member Jeffrey Gray, sentenced to seven to 14 years for rape, has uncovered DNA evidence he hopes will lead to his release from prison.

Gray, 51, serving as his own lawyer while sitting behind bars, claims the lab report misfiled by Windham police will help prove he shouldn’t have been convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault in July 2012.

In court documents, Gray claims the state forensic lab report will confirm he did not receive a fair trial in Rockingham County Superior Court because the victim lied when testifying she only had sex with him. He also has accused the prosecution and police of lying.

A hearing is set for Nov. 14 on whether Judge Marguerite Wageling should grant Gray a new trial, but he has asked for that hearing to be rescheduled.

The former Windham civil engineer was found guilty of raping the pregnant 36-year-old New York woman, who placed an advertisement on Craigslist because she needed a place to live. Gray contacted her, saying he only wanted to help her out.

He paid her airfare from New York and allowed her to live in his home for free. Gray claimed the sex between the two was consensual, but the woman testified he forced her to participate.

She also told jurors Gray liked to wear a diaper and pretend to be a baby before raping her and urinating on her. Gray also demanded that she pretend to be his mother, the woman testified.

When Gray appeared in court Sept. 4 to request a new trial, he said the prosecution made false statements during the trial and that Windham police Detective Bryan Bliss did as well when he testified no DNA test was conducted.

“That testimony, your honor, is false. There was a test,” Gray told Wageling. “That test shows her testimony was false.”

Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid has since acknowledged in court documents, filed two weeks ago, that a test had been conducted, but his office was not notified. Windham police Chief Gerald Lewis also admitted in an email to Reid that the county attorney’s office did not receive the lab report because it had been misfiled at the police station.

“It would appear that the reports were merely filed without the investigator/prosecution being advised,” the chief said.

When reached Friday, Lewis said the report was placed in one of Gray’s two files, but not in the correct file. The two files were stored in different parts of the station, he said.

But Lewis said the department began storing its files in the same place before it realized the error occurred.

“We saw the potential for us to have items that might be in two different places,” he said. “It had not happened before, but we saw that potential.”

Reid and Lewis contend the lab report will not prove Gray’s allegations the victim was lying. It would just further confirm what the prosecution has said all along, Lewis said.

“The results of that report will essentially support our case,” Lewis said.

The hearing Nov. 14 could be delayed because Gray, who has submitted several handwritten motions to the court, requested he first receive additional information from the prosecution.

Gray is serving as his own lawyer because he said his two public defenders, Anthony Naro and Julia Nye, did a poor job of representing him during the trial.