Ray pleads guilty to second degree murder

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copyright the Chronicle January 24, 2018

NEWPORT — Jeffrey M. Ray faces 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday morning.

His defense team never disputed the fact that Mr. Ray shot and killed his ex-wife’s husband, Rick Vreeland, in Brownington on May 25, 2015. There was an eyewitness. Mr. Ray’s son followed his stepfather to his father’s home that day and arrived in time to see the slaying.

Charged with first-degree murder, Mr. Ray resisted any effort to negotiate a plea deal over the three years he spent in jail awaiting trial. But that resistance ended Tuesday in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court, after Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett agreed to reduce the charge to second-degree murder.

The jury, picked Monday to hear the grim evidence in what was expected to be a nine-day trial, never set foot in the courtroom Tuesday. Instead Judge Robert Bent thanked them for their part in the proceedings and sent them home in plenty of time for lunch.

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