United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Reeves United States District Judge
matter is pending for consideration of the defendants'
motions to dismiss. [Record Nos. 17, 18] For the reasons that
follow, the motions will be granted, in part, and the
remaining claims will be stayed pending resolution of the
relevant criminal proceedings in state court.
and Vivian Gray were found deceased in their home in Scott
County, Kentucky in April 2007. [Record No. 1, p. 10 ¶
8] Their son Anthony Gray (“Gray”), the plaintiff
in this action, with whom they had a turbulent relationship,
quickly became a suspect in their deaths. Id. at p.
10 ¶ 10. Approximately six months following James and
Vivian's deaths, Scott County Sheriff Deputies Roger
Persley and David Willis asked Gray to come in for an
interview. Id. at p. 11 ¶ 14. The investigators
questioned Gray for approximately two hours concerning his
parents' signatures on one or more wills. Id.
Gray took a short break and returned to the interview room to
find grisly photographs of the crime scene. Officers had also
placed a slice of pecan pie and a Pepsi on the table.
Id. at p. 11 ¶ 17. According to Gray, this was
done to “recreate the crime scene environment.”
point, Persley and Willis turned off all recording devices
and interrogated Gray for over five hours. Id. at p.
11 ¶ 19. They employed various forms of “trickery
and deceit, ” which included producing “a forged
or altered lab report of DNA and blood evidence allegedly
linking Gray to the murders;” telling Gray that his car
had been captured on surveillance video heading to his
parents' home on the night in question; showing him a
photograph of a car and telling him that it was, in fact, his
car; telling Gray that a neighbor identified him at his
parents' home on the night in question; and telling him
that a judge had called the sheriff and threated Gray with
the death penalty if he did not confess to the murders
immediately. Id. at p. 12 ¶ 21. He was also
shown photographs of his parents' bodies and told that
their blood was found on his clothing and steering wheel, and
that gunshot residue was found on his clothing. Id.
at p. 12 ¶ 22. Gray alleges that the officers knew all
along that all of the assertions were untrue. Id.
officers eventually turned the cameras or other recording
devices back on. Id. at p. 12 ¶ 23. Gray told
the officers that they “made [him] realize what [he]
had done” and that the evidence they had provided
“helped [him] to . . . I still don't believe I done
it but you know, with the evidence I must have.”
Id. at p. 13 ¶ 25. Gray was immediately
arrested, taken into custody, and indicted. Id. at
p. 13 ¶ 26.
sought to suppress his confession prior to his first trial.
Id. at p. ¶ 33. The state trial court denied
suppression and a mistrial resulted. Id. at p. 16
¶ 40. Gray was tried again and was convicted of two
counts of murder and of tampering with physical evidence in
2013. Id. at p. 16 ¶ 42. He was sentenced to 45
years' imprisonment. Gray appealed.
February 2016, the Kentucky Supreme Court reversed Gray's
convictions, finding that “the hours of manipulation
and fabricated evidence” amounted to coercion and that
the confession should have been suppressed. Gray v.
Com., 480 S.W.3d 253, 261 (Ky. 2016). The court stated
that “considerable evidence” pointed to
Gray's guilt, but it was particularly troubled by
officers' use of false reports linking DNA evidence to
Gray. Id. At the time Gray filed the instant
Complaint, he was scheduled to be tried on the charges for a
third time. [Record No. 1, p. 17 ¶ 50]
Standard of Review
evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
must determine whether the complaint alleges
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The plausibility standard is met
“when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While a
complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff must provide more than mere labels and conclusions,
and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. While plaintiffs are not required to plead facts showing
that the defendant is likely to be responsible for the harm
alleged, plaintiffs must demonstrate “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Denial of a Fair Trial, Conspiracy, and Failure to Train
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleges that the defendants' conduct deprived him of a
fair trial in violation of his due process rights (Count IV)
and that his coerced confession resulted in a false
conviction (Count VII). He complains, inter alia,
that the defendants coerced his confession and knowingly used
it against him at trial; arrested and prosecuted him without
probable cause; and withheld and destroyed evidence during
the investigation and trials. [Record No. 1, p. 26 § 84]
Likewise, Gray claims that the defendants conspired to
obstruct justice to achieve his wrongful indictment,
conviction, and unlawful imprisonment (Count VI),
id. at p. 31 ¶ 99, and that they failed to
supervise or train their officers (Count IX).
plaintiff's § 1983 claims accrue when the plaintiff
has a complete and present cause of action. See Wallace
v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 394 (2007); Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487-88, n.8 (1994). In Kentucky,
the applicable statute of limitations for § 1983 actions
is one year. Collard v. Ky. Bd. of Nursing, 896 F.2d
179, 182 (6th Cir. 1990). Gray's interrogation occurred
in late 2007 and the defendants' “threats”
regarding the death penalty persisted through 2011, just
prior to his first trial. [Record No. 1, p. 13 ¶ 28]
Viewed in isolation, these events would no longer be
actionable, as they are outside the statute of limitations.
See Wallace, 549 U.S. at 349. However, Gray claims
that the defendants conspired and used a false confession and
fabricated evidence against him during his trials to obtain a
conviction. This may have resulted in new constitutional