EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 5, 2013

Former Salem official seeks new trial

Jeffrey Gray claims police, victim, prosecutors lied on the stand

By Doug Ireland

---- — BRENTWOOD — Former Salem Planning Board member Jeffrey Gray, serving seven to 14 years in prison for rape, is seeking a new trial and wants to represent himself.

Gray, 51, appeared in Rockingham Superior Court yesterday, claiming he deserves a new trial because police, the prosecution and the victim all lied on the witness stand.

He also asked Judge Marguerite Wageling if he could represent himself because he said his two public defenders, Anthony Naro and Julia Nye, did a poor job.

"I have studied this case every day for the last year," Gray said. "I know this case more than any other attorney that can come on. I know exactly where I'm going with this."

Gray was convicted in July 2012 on aggravated felonious sexual assault and simple assault charges. He was sentenced to state prison a year ago today. He was acquitted on six other aggravated felonious sexual assault counts and a kidnapping charge.

The former Windham civil engineer was found guilty of raping a pregnant 36-year-old New York woman who needed a place to live. Gray answered her Craigslist advertisement, telling her 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 was consensual.

Yesterday, Gray accused the woman of lying on the witness stand, claiming he didn't receive a fair trial. He also said the prosecution made false statements during the trial and Windham police Detective Bryan Bliss did as well when he testified that no DNA test was conducted.

"That testimony, your honor, is false. There was a test," Gray said. "That test shows her testimony was false."

The DNA test confirms the woman lied about having sex with people other than Gray, he said.

During the trial, the victim told the jury how Gray liked to wear a diaper and pretend to be a baby before raping and urinating on her.

The woman also testified that Gray asked her to pretend to be his mother.

The focus of the status conference yesterday, which lasted more than an hour, was on whether Gray was entitled to a new trial and if he could properly represent himself.

He still retains the right to a lawyer if he needs one, Wageling said. Although the judge said Gray was intelligent and she had no problem allowing him to represent himself, she said he would be taking a huge risk.

"I think it is a bad decision on your part," she said. "If you choose to represent yourself and do a bad job, that's it. This is your only shot."

Gray, a University of New Hampshire graduate, said he was gradually learning the legal process, but it would take time.

"I don't have down put the complexity of everything," he said.

Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid objected to the request for a new trial, saying the lengthy, handwritten motions Gray submitted to the court were too vague and that his allegations were untrue.

"We have no reason to believe there was false testimony," Reid said later.

Gray, shackled and wearing a dark green prison jumpsuit, asked Wageling questions as he began to prepare his defense. At one point, he asked for a pencil to take notes, fumbling through paperwork and struggling to write while handcuffed.

He said he intends to subpoena witnesses for a hearing on his trial request, scheduled for Nov. 14. Gray also requested written copies of testimony given by police officers who investigated his case.

Gray asked if he could make collect calls from the state prison to the county attorney's office, but Reid told him that wasn't possible.