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Gray pleads guilty to attempted murder

Gray pleads guilty to attempted murder

  • Man receives life sentence for kidnapping incident beginning in Hamilton

Article contributed by The Journal Record

By Scott johnson
Managing Editor

VERNON - A Lamar County has been sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder for his actions involving kidnapping a woman from a store in Hamilton.

Marshall Lee Gray, 33, Vernon, pled guilty to attempted murder on Oct. 28 in the 24th Judicial Circuit Court held at the Lamar County Courthouse in Vernon and was sentenced to life in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections, according to a press release issued by Andy Hamlin, District Attorney of the 24th Judicial Circuit Court.

Gray faced multiple charges for the June 2018 kidnapping and assault of Sherri Goggans, a Novato, Calif.-woman visiting Hamilton.
Gray had been released on probation from Bullock Correctional Facility in Union Springs just days before the incident, where he had served eight  months of a 20-year/38-month split sentence for first-degree rape.

Goggans encountered Gray while  shopping at Digger's Liquidation Sales Discount Store in south Hamilton. Gray was in Hamilton attempting to register as a sex offender.

After making her purchase, Goggans says Gray told her he had walked all the way from his uncle's house in Detroit and asked for a ride home.

When Goggans declined, Gray confronted her in the parking lot and  forcibly entered her car at knife-point and ordered her to drive.
Hamlin said the two ultimately ended up in Lamar County, where Goggans was able to escape the vehicle and was helped by several good samaritans. She was stabbed in one of her arms by Gray while escaping.

Gray fled in Goggans' vehicle and was later apprehended and arrested in Sulligent.

"This was a violent attack that was randomly carried out," Hamlin stated. "The victim and Gray had no prior relationship or connection. He is a predator. I don't want to think about what would have happened had she not been able to get away. She demonstrated great courage and is a survivor and a hero in my book."

According to Hamlin, testimony from Goggans and work by Sulligent Police Department Investigator Justin Cottingham and the Lamar County Sheriff's Department were crucial in Gray's plea.

"Every case is built on facts and evidence," Hamlin said. "The victim was able to recall the attack with great detail and articulate these events to law enforcement.

"Law enforcement did a great job responding and investigating the case. This allowed us to build a strong case that resulted in Gray receiving the maximum sentence. Hopefully, he will  spend the rest of his life behind bars."

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