Anthony Gray
Columbus Grove, Ohio
Wrongly Imprisoned Man Finally Free

© The Associated Press 
February 9, 1999

PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. (AP) -- A man who spent seven years in prison for a rape
and murder he didn't commit was finally freed -- 15 months after another man was convicted of the crime. 

``It's been a living hell,'' Anthony Gray, 31, said after his release on Monday. 

Gray had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree rape in the killing of Linda Mae Pellicano, 38, and was sentenced in 1991 to two concurrent life sentences. 

But Gray's present attorney, Joel Katz, said Gray has a below-average IQ and was pressured into the confession, believing he would avoid the death penalty if he entered a guilty plea and agreed to testify against two other men. One man was found innocent, and the other's case was thrown out of court. 

``They were trying to get me the death penalty for something I didn't do,'' Gray said Monday. ``Why should I die for something I didn't do?'' 

In 1992, Calvert County State's Attorney Robert Riddle urged police to reopen their investigation after he reviewed the case and began to suspect that Gray wasn't the killer. 

Five years later, police arrested Anthony Fleming for breaking and entering.  Trying to plea bargain, Fleming gave details about Mrs. Pellicano's killing that made investigators suspect he was involved. 

DNA evidence from the case matched Fleming's. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. 

Gray was not released immediately partly because of caution by Katz and Riddle. 

``I wanted to make sure we left no stone unturned before we did this extraordinary thing,'' said Riddle, who was on hand to see Gray released.  ``There was justice today.'' 

In Chicago, a man who confessed to the 1982 killings of two teen-agers was ordered held without bail Monday. Alstory Simon's admission led authorities to release Anthony Porter, 43, from death row last week after nearly 17 years in prison. 

Simon, of Milwaukee, who confessed on videotape under questioning by a private investigator, claims he only fired his gun in self defense. 

But Judge Nicholas Ford said the fatal shots were fired from no more than a foot away -- casting doubt on the self-defense claim. 

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