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Crack Addiction Claims Two Lives In 1989: Father Slain & Son Still Serving Time

by Amanda Smith

In a case that has become all too familiar, crack cocaine simultaneously claimed two lives on April 11, 1989 when Jerome Grayer robbed and murdered Roosevelt Grayer, his 68 year-old father, for money to buy the drug, feeding an addiction that had been present for some time before the slaying. Grayer was convicted and sentenced to two life terms.

Grayer, a 33 year-old ordained Baptist preacher at the time of the murder, entered his father's home sometime during the night of April 11, 1989 with an unidentified female. Upon his arrest, Grayer claimed that he had shot his father but later changed his story during his testimony in court, stating that the female actually pulled the trigger. He said that he initially confessed to the murder to protect the woman, who had a small child at the time. The female, who was later tracked down by law enforcement, claimed no involvement in the killing and was never charged with the crime. Grayer also pleaded guilty to robbing his father of $287 and a watch during the crime.

Indicted by a Bibb County Grand Jury on May 23, 1989, Grayer admitted to the charges of felony murder and armed robbery just hours after the indictment. Defense lawyers stated that their client confessed to the murder to avoid the possibility that prosecutors would seek the death penalty. Grayer received two life terms to be served consecutively (following one after another rather than at the same time).

District Attorney Willis B. Sparks III outlined the case at which Judge Tommy Day Wilcox presided. According to Sparks, a relative found the body of Roosevelt Grayer on the sofa on the morning after the murder, but the 22-caliber bullet that killed him wasn't discovered at first. Jerome Grayer arrived at the home later, driving his father's car, after which his fingerprints were discovered by investigators on the back of a television set from which a cable box was missing. Grayer first told police that his cousin was involved in the murder but later admitted to police during questioning that he had shot his father, but didn't intend to kill him. Grayer said that he wanted money to buy crack cocaine, a habit that cost him $200 to $300 a day.

At the time of the murder, Grayer had three prior convictions in Bibb County. The younger Grayer had pleaded guilty to car theft in 1975; to three counts of forging his father's name on checks in 1986 and to shoplifting in 1988. While on probation for the shoplifting conviction, Grayer failed a drug screen, testing positive for marijuana and cocaine. Defense attorney Christina Hunt stated that Grayer's crack addiction had "taken hold" of him after his mother's death the prior summer and that "someone should have stepped in and done something" after he failed the drug screen while on probation.

According to Steve Hayes, Director of Public Affairs at the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Grayer was first granted a parole hearing in December of 2007, but was denied parole. He will next be granted parole reconsideration in December of 2011.


Jerome Grayer