Harvey trial under way

Eight months after the brutal New Year's Day slayings of beloved musician Bryan Harvey, his wife Kathryn, and their two daughters, Stella and Ruby, the trial for their alleged murderer, Ricky Javon Gray, is under way in a Richmond court. Among details to emerge: that Gray and his accomplice, Ray Dandridge, were already in the house when a family friend dropped nine-year-old Stella off after a sleepover. And, perhaps surprisingly, the news that Gray– who has pleaded not guilty to five counts of capital murder– confessed to the killings, saying "None of this was necessary."

Harvey was best known in Charlottesville for his performances with The Dads, a pop rock group that appeared regularly on local stages during the 1980s. On Wednesday, August 16, jurors heard a recording of Gray's chilling confession and were shown crime scene photos, according to an extensive report in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Following his arrest in Philadelphia on January 7, Gray told Detective Howard Peterman how he and Dandridge discovered the open front door of the Harvey's south Richmond house and went inside with the intention of robbing the family while Ashley Baskerville– whom Gray and Dandridge allegedly killed days later– waited outside.

According to the transcript published in the TD, Gray bound Bryan Harvey with an extension cord and, after Stella returned home, taped the hands of Kathryn and the two girls while Dandridge searched the upstairs for valuables. Gray said when Kathryn and her daughters freed their hands and tried to get up, he "started cuttin' their throats" before grabbing a hammer and bludgeoning the family.

Gray said he believed Dandridge returned at some point and cut Bryan Harvey, but he said he then hit him with the hammer until he stopped moving.

The crime stunned Richmond, and as Times-Dispatch columnist Ray McAllister writes in today's issue, "It would be hard for anyone to sit in the Ricky Gray trial and not want vengeance."

If convicted, Gray faces life in prison or the death penalty.