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Gray v. State

Court of Appeals of Utah

June 8, 2017

Steven J. Gray, Appellant,
v.
State of Utah, Appellee.

         Fourth District Court, Provo Department The Honorable Claudia Laycock No. 140400748

          Steven J. Gray, Appellant Pro Se.

          Sean D. Reyes and Erin Riley, Attorneys for Appellee.

          Judge J. Frederic Voros Jr. authored this Opinion, in which Judges Kate A. Toomey and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.

          OPINION

          VOROS, JUDGE

         ¶1 Steven J. Gray appeals the postconviction court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the State on his petition for relief under the Post-Conviction Remedies Act (PCRA). We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 After consuming cocaine and alcohol for days, Gray stabbed his girlfriend 67 times and mutilated her body. He then moved her body to the bathroom, cleaned and secured the residence, and fled. He later walked into a police station in another state and confessed to the crime. Gray described the crime as a "fatal result[] of his acts of passion."

         ¶3 The State charged Gray with aggravated murder, a capital felony; object rape, a first degree felony; mayhem, a second degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second degree felony; and abuse or desecration of a human body, a third degree felony. The information advised Gray that the State intended to seek the death penalty. Gray was assigned a team of four attorneys as his counsel.

         ¶4 Gray had a history of drug abuse and reported to his counsel that he suffered from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. His counsel obtained his mental health records from various correctional and health institutions. They also retained a mitigation expert, who interviewed Gray's friends and family members. This investigation uncovered a childhood and adolescent history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

         ¶5 Pursuant to a plea agreement, the State amended the information and agreed not to seek the death penalty. The amended information charged Gray with aggravated murder, a first degree felony; mayhem, a second degree felony; and abuse or desecration of a human body, a third degree felony. Gray pleaded guilty to all three counts. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He did not appeal.

         ¶6 Gray later filed a petition for postconviction relief, alleging that his counsel were ineffective for "failing to investigate [his] extensive history of mental illness as a defense" and for failing "to tell [him] of possible defenses, such as temporary mental insanity, extreme emotional distress, etc." Gray argued that, but for his counsel's deficient performance, he would have proceeded to trial and presented a "viable defense of insanity and/or extreme emotional distress manslaughter." The State moved for summary judgment. The postconviction court granted the State's motion.

         ISSUE AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶7 Gray contends on appeal that the postconviction court erred in granting the State's motion for summary judgment and denying his petition for postconviction relief. We review a postconviction court's grant of summary judgment for correctness. Honie v. State, 2014 UT 19, ¶ 28, 342 P.3d 182. "We affirm a grant of summary judgment when the record shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a ...


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