Executed man’s lawyers raise concerns about lethal injection

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Attorneys for a convicted killer executed in Virginia say they’re concerned his lethal injection caused a painful death.Ricky Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. Wednesday after receiving a three-drug injection. The 39-year-old was convicted of brutally killing a Richmond family in 2006.Gray’s attorneys said yesterday that officials have provided “no plausible explanation” for why the process of inserting the IV took about 30 minutes, which is longer than usual. They also questioned whether Gray was fully unconscious when the second drug was injected, noting that his head moved side to side after the so-called “pinch test.”A Department of Corrections spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to messages. She told The Richmond Times-Dispatch the delay was due to difficulty in placing the IV line in a vein.

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3 of 4 Dem. congressman from Virginia to skip inauguration

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Three of four Democratic congressmen from Virginia say they’ll skip tomorrow’s presidential inauguration.They are U.S. Reps Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Donald McEachin. The Virginian-Pilot reports that Congressman Bobby Scott will attend Donald Trump’s swearing in.Separate statements from Beyer, Connolly and McEachin cite various reasons for their absences. But common themes include claims that Trump has been divisive and that Russia had an alleged role in helping him win.Connolly said Trump “poured salt” into the wounds of a divided country and helped resurrect white supremacy.Beyer blasted the president-elect for a “profound disrespect for women” and mimicking people with disabilities.McEachin said he’s “never seen a campaign that was based so much on hatred.” He said Trump has failed to bring the country together post-election.

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Man convicted of killing family of 4 is executed in Virginia

JARRATT, Va. (AP) – Virginia has executed a man convicted of killing two young girls and their parents during a New Year’s Day home invasion more than 11 years ago.Authorities say 39-year-old Ricky Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. Wednesday following a lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia.Asked if he had any last words, he responded, “Nope.”Gray was sentenced to death for the slayings of 9-year-old Stella Harvey and her 4-year-old sister Ruby. Gray also was convicted of killing their parents, Bryan and Kathryn Harvey. The family was attacked when their front door was open as they prepared to hold a holiday party.All were found in their burning home in Richmond, bound, beaten, stabbed and with their throats cut.

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Virginia to execute man convicted in family’s 2006 slaying

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia is planning to execute a man convicted of killing a well-known family of four in their Richmond home on New Year’s Day 2006.Thirty-nine-year-old Ricky Gray is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 9 p.m. tonight.Gray’s attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put his execution on hold so he can pursue his challenge to the state’s lethal injection plan.Gray was convicted of killing of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters, Stella and Ruby. The family was found in the basement of their burning home, bound, beaten and stabbed, with their throats cut.Gray’s attorneys say the scheduled execution would be the first time a state uses compounded midazolam or compounded potassium chloride in a lethal injection.

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Ex-Virginia Tech student wants slaying trial moved

Natalie Keepers

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) – A judge is considering a request to move the upcoming trial of a former Virginia Tech student charged in the slaying of a 13-year-old girl.News media outlets report that Judge Robert Turk has taken under consideration the request from 19-year-old Natalie Keepers.Keepers is charged with being an accessory to kidnapping and murder and with helping hide the body of seventh-grader Nicole Lovell last year. Nineteen-year-old David Eisenhauer is charged with first-degree murder, abduction and hiding Lovell’s body. Their trials are scheduled for March.The judge also ruled that Keepers can wear civilian clothes during the trial.

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Advocates square off over gun laws at Capitol

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A year after a rare compromise on gun legislation, a more familiar standoff seems likely at the Virginia General Assembly. Advocates both for gun control and gun rights swarmed the Capitol Monday to advocate for and against gun-related legislation.Gun rights advocates are pushing for fewer restrictions on where guns can be carried, including in schools. Gun control advocates want universal background checks on gun purchases. Both sides have uphill battles, as there’s been no indication of any type of compromise brewing between lawmakers.Last year, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and pro-gun Republicans surprised many by agreeing to gun measures that allowed more out-of-state concealed-handgun permit holders to legally carry guns in Virginia while prohibiting people subject to permanent protective orders from carrying firearms.

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Hundreds in Richmond rally to support health care law

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Hundreds of people  gathered for a rally outside the Virginia Capitol to oppose Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.High-ranking Democrats including Sen. Tim Kaine, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin spoke to the crowd Sunday in Richmond. The rally was one of many around the country in support of the federal health care law, which President-elect Donald Trump has promised to overturn and replace.The speakers said the law had expanded access to health care and emphasized the importance of provisions that limit lifetime caps on coverage and prevent insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.Attendee Kate Barrett of Richmond says she worries that if the law is repealed, her daughter, who has an incurable cancer, could be denied coverage or become unable to afford treatment.

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GOP governors’ group pours $5 million into Virginia race

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Republican Governors Association has donated $5 million to a political-action committee to help the GOP take back the Virginia governor’s mansion. The donation is the largest in Virginia political history and suggests Republicans like their chances to win this year’s race for governor. However, the RGA could take the money back if that outlook changes. . Democrats have won three of the past four governors’ races in Virginia, where governors are limited to a single term. RGA spokesman Jon Thompson says the group sees Virginia “as a race that’s very vulnerable for party flip.”  Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie is seeking the GOP nomination for governor along with Prince William County board chairman Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner.

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Northam joins rally for minimum wage, driver’s license bills

Ralph Northam

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam has joined a group of labor and community activists at a rally in support of raising Virginia’s minimum wage and offering driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.Dozens of people gathered Thursday outside the Capitol for the demonstration. Northam, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, said it’s impossible for Virginians to support their families on the current $7.25 minimum wage.Democratic Del. Marcus Simon introduced a bill that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Previous efforts to raise  Virginia’s minimum wage have failed, and the bill has little chance of passing the GOP-controlled General Assembly.The demonstrators also called for the passage of a bill allowing the issuance of temporary driver’s licenses to people who can’t receive a permanent one because of their immigration status.

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Bill exempts some fracking chemicals from records requests

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A bill advancing in the Virginia Legislature would exempt certain chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing from disclosure in response to a public records request.Del. Roxann Robinson’s bill would exempt information about chemicals deemed a trade secret from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Robinson, a Republican, introduced a similar measure last year. She says it’s necessary to protect the oil and gas industry and its closely held trade secrets.But opponents say the bill could hinder first responders in an emergency and keep landowners in the dark about pollutants that might be affecting their groundwater.Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to split open rock formations and allow oil and gas to flow.A House of Delegates subcommittee advanced the measure on a 4-3 vote Thursday.

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