MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A man convicted of murdering his brother-in-law in a jury trial nearly 30 years ago has another chance at freedom on Thursday.
Victor Gerald Wray, who turns 81 next week, was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 after claiming he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Pat Reliford Jr.
According to the Arab Tribune, Wray gave a tearful testimony about the night Reliford died, saying his brother-in-law “rushed him, swinging a rusty pipe and waving a can of something.” He went on to say that he shot Reliford twice with a .38 because he feared for his life.
Evidence that was presented during the trial by Tim Jolley, then assistant District Attorney and now a circuit judge, showed a can of mace had been found in Reliford’s hand, but noted that there weren’t any fingerprints on it. Jolley added that a rusty pipe was found next to him, but said there wasn’t any rust on Reliford’s hands.
The evidence did show, according to the Arab Tribune, that Wray’s first bullet “pierced Reliford’s chest, lung and heart, dropping him to the ground but did not kill him…Wray’s second bullet was fired into the side of Reliford’s head, instantly killing him.”
A forensic scientist who testified said, “Between the two shots, [Reliford’s] heart beat 40-50 times, pumping out half a gallon of blood, which would take 30-60 seconds.” In order to demonstrate what that amount of time looked like for the court, Jolley brought out a clock and ticked off 30 seconds in a “deathly silent courtroom.”
“That was not self-defense,” said Jolley. “It was murder.” It would only take the jury a little over an hour to deliberate before returning a guilty verdict.
Victor Wray has served over 27 years of his life sentence in the Alabama Department of Corrections. His parole hearing is set for August 3.