Assaulting a woman, knocking her to the ground and sitting on her is not the best way to win her affections. Phillip David Gray found this out when the woman, 27, of Chantilly, pressed charges.
He was soon arrested and, last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court, he pleaded guilty to abduction and burglary with the intent to commit a felony.
"Are you entering this plea freely and voluntarily and because you are, indeed, guilty of this offense?" asked Judge Stanley Klein before accepting each of his pleas. "Yes," replied Gray, both times. "Do you understand you're waiving your right to a trial?" asked Klein. Again, Gray answered yes.
THE JUDGE also made Gray, 31, of 7086 Shepherdstown Road in Warrenton, aware that he could receive as much as 30 years in prison for both offenses combined. And he advised Gray that, although the prosecuting and defense attorneys had agreed to a sentence of no more than 12 months in jail, it didn't mean that he, the judge, would necessarily accept their agreement.
Then Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Ben'Ary explained what the evidence against Gray would have been, had his case gone to trial. "The defendant worked with the victim and they became friends," he said. "He expressed an interest in having a romantic relationship with her, but she didn't want to."
Ben'Ary said she was leaving her home after dark, Feb. 13, to walk her dog, when she discovered Gray holding a bowling bag and waiting for her in the breezeway of her apartment. "He put his hand over her mouth, pushed her to the floor and sat on her," said the prosecutor. "He had her call a counseling number. She then convinced him she was injured, so they left to seek medical care for her."
As they left, another man — the woman's current boyfriend — approached them. Said Ben'Ary: "She told him to go away, but he became suspicious and followed them to the nearby Safeway [in Sully Station Shopping Center] where the defendant's car was parked."
When she and Gray arrived at the shopping center the other man drove up and again confronted Gray. He loosened his grip, and the woman ran into the Safeway grocery store and screamed for help.
Gray chased her, but was thwarted by the boyfriend — who drove his car in between Gray and the victim. But the pursuer refused to give up and continued chasing the woman. However, when he noticed a group of people was gathering to help her, he fled in his car.
SHORTLY AFTERWARD, Gray admitted himself to Fauquier County Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained when the boyfriend's car ran over his foot. Fairfax County police then obtained warrants for Gray's arrest, and Fauquier County sheriff's deputies served them.
Ben'Ary said police found the bag Gray had left in the woman's apartment. He said it contained towels and duct tape. However, defense attorney Michael Devine disputed some of the facts.
"My client says there was a romantic relationship, although [the victim] denies it. And he denies that there was duct tape in the bag. He made no attempt to sexually molest her, and she was uninjured."
Judge Klein then found Gray guilty as charged and set his sentencing for Dec. 17. Then Ben'Ary asked to have Gray's bond revoked so he'd be in jail while waiting to be sentenced. "It certainly was a strange set of facts," he said. "But it was terrifying for the victim since it was at her home."
Objecting, Devine said Gray has lived 19 years in Fauquier County. "He has been out on bond since 10 days after his arrest and has not gone near the defendant," said Devine. "He has no prior record, he has made every court appearance and has maintained contact with me. He is not a flight risk."
However, Klein had the final say. "I understand that he has no prior record," he explained. "But in light of what the victim went through and the nature of this case, I'm revoking his bond and remanding him to jail to await sentencing."