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Anthony Gray

Other Maryland Guilty Plea Cases
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On May 13, 1991, an intruder raped and murdered 38-year-old Linda May Pellicano in her home in Calvert County, Maryland. Her 16-year-old daughter came home from school at about 3:30 p.m., and found her mother’s body lying in a hallway.

The victim was found partially clothed, bounded with a telephone cord and shoelace, and with a sock stuffed her mouth. A plastic grocery bag was pulled over her head. She had been raped and stabbed once in the chest. A bloody kitchen knife with a nine-inch blade was next to her body. The house had been ransacked, and Pellicano’s purse was dumped out. Five personal checks were missing, and her car was gone from the driveway.

On June 19, 1991, police arrested Paul Holland and Leonard Long on unrelated charges. During questioning, they said they had smoked crack cocaine with 23-year-old Gray on the day of the crime in the vicinity of Pellicano’s house. Long denied involvement in the crime. When detectives showed him one of the victim's stolen checks that had been cashed, Long said he believed the handwriting on the check looked like Gray’s.

The following day, Holland told detectives that he happened to see Gray and Long near Pellicano’s house, and that they told him they intended to “get some money out of the house.” Holland said Gray and Long asked him to be a lookout for them. Holland said Gray and Long went to the back of Pellicano’s house, but he then fled when Pellicano pulled into the driveway.

At approximately 6:00 p.m. on June 20, 1991, Maryland State Police Trooper Brian Newcomer, accompanied by Calvert County Sheriff Lawrence Stinnett, took Gray into custody for questioning. At the state police barracks, Gray was questioned for approximately 30 minutes. The questioning then terminated while the police called for a polygraph examiner. Newcomer later said he when he picked up Gray, he gave him a Miranda warning. Gray would later claim, however, that he was never given a Miranda warning, and that his repeated requests to call an attorney or his family were denied.

Gray was interrogated intermittently during the night, during which he was given two polygraph examinations. He was told he failed both, although the results actually were inconclusive. Sometime after midnight, Sheriff Stinnett and two other officers took Gray to an interview room for further questioning.

Gray later said the officers told him they knew he had committed the crime because Long had implicated him. Sheriff Stinnett told Gray that if he didn't plead guilty he would “fry in the electric chair.” Gray also said that the detectives fed him details about the crime, turning the audio recorder on and off so they could provide him with details and correct his statement.

The officers said that after about 20 minutes, Gray admitted that he met Long and Holland on the day of the crime while on his way to buy crack cocaine. Long and Holland, Gray said, were planning to “break into a house” to “get some money.” Gray then repeated his account, but added that he saw Long and Holland walk down Pellicano’s driveway before he left.

The police said that Gray gave a third version in which he said he stood at a nearby intersection and watched for 15 or 20 minutes while Long and Holland went behind the victim's house. When he saw Pellicano return home, he left.

At about 4:00 a.m. on June 21, 1991, Gray gave a recorded statement, which began with him saying he had been advised of his rights and had agreed to make a statement. Gray then gave another version of events, this time adding that he had agreed to be a look out for Long and Holland, but left when he saw Pellicano pull into the driveway.

Gray, who was mentally challenged and had a reported IQ of 79, later said he was given no food and not allowed to sleep that night. He was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape.

In August 1991, Gray gave yet another statement that he entered the house with Long and Holland, and saw Holland grab Pellicano around the neck when she came home from shopping and surprised them. Gray said that Holland tried to strangle her, and then stabbed her with a knife that Long got from the kitchen.

Gray agreed to plead guilty and testify against Long and Holland, who were also charged with murder and rape. In return, Gray was to receive a sentence of 30 years in prison. But after Long’s attorney (who was later disbarred) told Gray that all three of them would go free if he refused to testify, Gray decided not to testify. He ultimately pled guilty on October 7, 1991, and was sentenced to two concurrent terms of life in prison.

Long and Holland went to trial separately and both were acquitted. By that time, their lawyers had learned that there were fingerprints at the scene of the crime that didn’t match Gray, Long, Holland, or anyone who lived in the Pellicano home. In addition, DNA tests on sperm recovered from Pellicano’s body excluded all three defendants. A handwriting analyst said that the handwriting on stolen checks that were cashed did not resemble the handwriting of Long, Holland, or Gray. Also, a witness had reported seeing a white man driving away from Pellicano’s home. Long, Holland, and Gray were black men.

Newly elected Calvert County State’s Attorney Robert Riddle reviewed the case and became concerned that Gray might not have been involved. As a result, in 1994, he urged police to re-examine the case.

However, nothing changed until 1997 when Arthur Fleming, a white auto mechanic from Prince Frederick, Maryland, was arrested on a burglary charge. In an attempt to cut a deal, Fleming offered to provide information on the Pellicano case. During questioning, however, he implicated himself in the crime, providing a detail that had never been made public—that Pellicano was in the process of painting a window frame at the time of the crime.

Tests matched Fleming’s DNA to the DNA profile identified in the sperm recovered from Pellicano’s body. In addition, a handwriting analyst said the writing on the forged checks was similar to Fleming’s handwriting.

Fleming was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison. On February 8, 1999, a Circuit Court judge granted Gray a new trial and the charges were dismissed.

Later that year, a bill was introduced in the Maryland legislature to compensate Gray, but the legislation did not pass.

Gray also filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages, but the case was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 8/26/2017
State:Maryland
County:Calvert
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Rape
Reported Crime Date:1991
Convicted:1991
Exonerated:1999
Sentence:Life
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:23
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes