Army Can Execute Death-Row Soldier, Bush Rules

Ronald Gray set to become first service member put to death since 1961
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 28, 2008 7:20 PM CDT
Army Can Execute Death-Row Soldier, Bush Rules
President Bush today approved the execution of a US Army private convicted in a series of murders and rapes.   (AP Photo)

President Bush today approved the execution of an Army private, administration officials said. It was the first time in over a half-century that a president has affirmed a death sentence for a member of the US military. Bush OK'd the military's request to execute Ronald A. Gray, convicted in connection with a spree of four murders and eight rapes in the Fayetteville, NC, area over eight months in the late 1980s while stationed at Fort Bragg.

Unlike in the civilian courts, a member of the US Armed Forces cannot be executed until the president approves the death sentence. Gray has been on death row at the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since April 1988. Members of the US military have been executed throughout history, but just 10 have been executed by presidential approval since 1951 when the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's modern-day legal system, was enacted into law. President Eisenhower was the last president to approve a military execution. In 1957, he approved the execution of John Bennett, an Army private convicted of raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl. He was hanged in 1961. (Read more George W. Bush stories.)

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