Two men were convicted of murdering a California man because he caused a DUI crash that hurt one of them. Defendants Robert Manor, 54, and Victor Merle Gray, 53, face a possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in a hearing scheduled for April 28, according to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors said victim Raymond Wright, 55, had been a DUI driver who caused a 2011 crash in which Manor and his wife were badly injured. The felony case ended with Wright serving jail time and probation, prosecutors said.
“However, Manor held a grudge against the victim for years and put his plan for revenge into motion in 2018,” authorities wrote.
Wright, a divorced father of three children, disappeared from Rocklin, California, on Jan. 11, 2018. The last anyone heard from him was by telephone that morning. Worried relatives checked his home as well as a shop he rented in the Rio Linda area near Sacramento, according to prosecutors. It was on Jan. 13, 2018, that Wright’s brother encountered a strange man inside Wright’s residence and called the cops, authorities said.
“The man ran out of the house, but a soda cup filled with a fresh drink was found in the kitchen,” police wrote. “The straw from the cup was tested for DNA and uploaded to the CODIS database.”
Wright’s truck turned up in the Sacramento area days later. Even after all this time, however, authorities have not found his remains. Nonetheless, prosecutors said they were able to identify Gray as the strange man and also discover key evidence in the murder.
Ironically enough, authorities encountered Gray as part of another DUI crash. Gray was under the influence and led state troopers on a high-speed chase on Jan. 27, 2018, they said. There was a crash resulting in injuries, prosecutors said. Gray’s van was towed and when authorities searched it they found a blood-soaked raincoat, Wright’s wallet, and some of the missing man’s other property.
“Much of the property was charred and the blood on the raincoat matched the victim’s DNA,” police said. “Further investigation revealed a letter from Gray to Manor complaining about not being paid for ‘delivering dude’ and asked Manor to take care of the person ‘who hand delivered you your revenge.’ Other evidence also linked Manor to the revenge killing and the hiring of Gray to kidnap the victim from his shop in Rio Linda.”
The DNA found in Wright’s kitchen matched Gray, a convicted felon, on CODIS, officials said.
Both defendants were convicted Friday of first-degree murder with the special circumstance that the murder was committed during the commission of a kidnapping. They were also found guilty of kidnapping for ransom causing death.
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