Judge lifts execution stay for ex-soldier in military prison

FILE - In this April 6, 1988, file photo, Ronald Gray leaves a courtroom escorted by military police at Fort Bragg, N.C. A Kansas federal judge has lifted a stay of execution for Gray, a former soldier who was sentenced to death for killing two women and a series of rapes, moving him closer to becoming the military's first death sentence carried out in more than a half century. No known execution date has been set for Gray as of Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (Marcus Castro/The Fayetteville Observer via AP, File)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Kansas federal judge has lifted a stay of execution for a former soldier sentenced to death for two killings and a series of rapes, inching the man closer to becoming the military's first death sentence carried out in more than a half century.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten last week sided with the U.S. government in denying a bid by former Fort Bragg, North Carolina, soldier Ronald A. Gray to block the military from pressing ahead with the execution by lethal injection.

Since a military court sentenced him to die in 1988, Gray has been held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where the military carried out its last execution when it hanged Army Pvt. John Bennett in 1961 for raping and trying to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

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