Saturday, February 15, 2003

Louisville man says 'not guilty' in Connecticut couple's slayings



The Associated Press

DANBURY, Conn. - The man charged with killing a New Fairfield couple in their home Thanksgiving Day pleaded innocent to four charges Friday in Danbury Superior Court.

Alexander Gray, 20, of Louisville, Ky., wore a green prison smock and was handcuffed and shackled as he answered the charges of capital felony, two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree larceny.

Gray responded only after public defender, Patrick J. Culligan leaned over and whispered in his ear, "You answer, `Not guilty.' "

Gray is accused of killing Ronald Ahrlich and his wife, Roberta. Family members arriving for the Nov. 28 holiday discovered the couple and called police. Police said Gray, a college student, was visiting cousins who lived near the Ahrlichs.

He was arrested in Bedford, N.Y., later the same day after crashing the Ahrlichs' sport-utility vehicle on Interstate 684, police said.

Gray also waived his right to a probable-cause hearing Friday. His defense team said it would seek an insanity defense.

"It didn't serve any useful purpose to rehash the details of what happened to these poor people," said Robert Field, a public defender representing Gray.

Field also said he believes Gray suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and heard voices. He would not say whether Gray was currently taking medication for the disorder.

Louisville police have said Gray was ordered into a mental hospital last summer. Field has said he was released after doctors said he posed no danger to the community.

According to a police statement, Gray told authorities he used his bare hands to kill the couple after asking to use their telephone.

"I just butchered him," Gray told authorities.

"He was an old man. I just manhandled him, beat him to the ground. I beat him in the face. His wife came down and said, `Oh, my God,' and I beat her down, too."

Gray is due back in court March 14.




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