Md. woman gets 25 years in jealousy-fueled killing
By Keith L. Alexander, Updated: Friday, June 10, 4:06 PM
A D.C. Superior Court judge sentenced a Maryland mother of four to 25 years in prison Friday for fatally stabbing another woman last year because she thought the victim was dating her ex-boyfriend.
Prosecutors had asked Judge Gerald I. Fisher to sentence Ramona Gray, 31, of District Heights to 26 years after Gray pleaded guilty to the Aug. 31 attack on Shemese A. Grant, 31. Grant was stabbed 18 times in the back in a parking lot outside a deli in the 1700 block of Good Hope Road SE.
At a previous hearing, prosecutors showed still photographs from a surveillance camera in the deli that showed Gray waiting inside, looking out the front door and then holding a knife, which Gray had pulled out of her purse, a witness in the store told police.
According to court documents, Gray saw Grant get out of a car in the parking lot. When Grant’s back was turned, Gray ran out of the deli and began stabbing her. Grant cried out, “No, Mona, no!”
Authorities said Gray was angry that Grant had a romantic relationship with Gray’s former boyfriend. Grant’s family said the relationship had ended by the time the attack occurred. The ex-boyfriend was not at Friday’s hearing.
Grant was the mother of a 4-year-old boy.
Prosecutors initially charged Gray with first-degree, premeditated murder. But after learning that Gray had a history of mental illness since childhood, prosecutors reduced the charges to second-degree murder, which Gray pleaded guilty to in January.
“Ms. Gray has shown violent episodes since her childhood,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Gripkey said. “No doubt this was a premeditated murder.”
It was an emotional sentencing for families of both women, and relatives on both sides of the courtroom wept openly. Grant’s mother, Gina, reading from a prepared statement, asked the judge to sentence Gray to 40 years in prison because of her prior charges. In 2007, Gray pleaded guilty to arson after she was arrested for setting fire to her boyfriend’s D.C. apartment. At a previous hearing, Gripkey said Gray had admitted to setting the fire because she saw a woman leaving the apartment. Gray was on probation when she attacked Grant.
“You have stolen my baby girl. My Tinkerbell,” Grant’s mother said, standing only a few feet from Gray, who was shackled and wearing a gray prison jumpsuit and white cross around her neck. “I can’t judge you. I can only pray for you.”
Gray tearfully interjected: “I’m sorry, Ms. Grant. I know sorry is not good enough.”
Gray’s attorney, Premal Dharia of the District’s Public Defender Service, said Gray had not received the proper mental health attention and had stopped taking her anti-depression medication before she killed Grant.
As part of her sentence, the judge ordered Gray to undergo “intense” psychiatric treatment, anger-management classes and substance-abuse treatment.
Outside the courtroom after the hearing, the families of both women hugged each other as Gray’s mother apologized to Grant’s family.
“What’s so frightening is the cycle of urban decay continues,” said Lisa Whiteside, Grant’s aunt. “We now have five young children who are going to grow up without their mothers.”