By Alton Mitchell
A recent murder case in Valley, which spans two States has taken a drastic turn as charges have been upgraded for the suspect in the case. The suspect in that case now faces capital charges in relation to the early July Valley homicide. On the morning of July 7th, 2015 investigators discovered the body of a woman in Osanippa Creek near the Alabama-Georgia state line in Valley. Investigators believed that body to belong to a missing Columbus, Georgia woman Renee Eldridge. The assumptions of investigators were correct and the body was confirmed to be that of Ms. Eldridge who had been reported missing 2 days earlier in Columbus. It was later discovered she had been a victim of a homicide caused by blunt force trauma.
The investigators on the case quickly named a suspect, that being Stacey Demar Gray. Authorities quickly began to seek out Gray for arrest. On the day when Ms. Eldridge’s body was being laid to rest in Georgia authorities were hot on Gray’s trail pursuing him for vast majority of a day in the woods of Macon County. Gray was taken into custody following a manhunt on that night. He has now become a resident of the Chambers County Detention Center.
As the case has developed charges for Gray have been upgraded to include capital murder, kidnapping, and capital murder rape. Members of the Chambers County District Attorney’s office have expressed they will be seeking the death penalty against Gray in the case.
The addition of the capital murder charge gives the case a new footing. Under the Alabama code Title 13A of the criminal code Chapter 5: Punishments and sentences there are two main options in a capital murder case. Those two options include the sentence of death which is often carried out by lethal injection in Alabama or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Also defined under Alabama law is what constitutes a capital offense in homicides and deaths. Some of the actions which could include a capital murder offense include an offense being committed by a defendant during actions such as hijacking, kidnapping, robbery, arson, rape, sodomy, or sexual abuse. Some of these mentioned provisions run parallel to the upgraded charges now present against Mr. Gray.
As the case has developed the criminal history of Mr. Gray has also surfaced to include charges in Muscogee County, Georgia to include cruelty to children, multiple traffic citations, and simple battery. Local TV station WTVM reported that Gray was sent to prison in 1994 for felonious assault of two Youngstown, OH police officers. That incident stemmed from Gray shooting two Youngstown Police Officers. The officers were wounded, but did survive and Gray was sent to prison for nine years for that incident.
Evidence is still being gathered and additional charges may still lie ahead for the suspect being that multiple jurisdictions are involved in the case. Today however police have their suspect in custody and the Chambers County District Attorney’s office is pursuing the best solutions to the case.