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Chambers Co. court drops 2015 murder, rape charges against Stacey Gray

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 12:26 AM EDT
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CHAMBERS COUNTY, Ala. (WTVM) - An east Alabama man is breathing a sigh of relief, at least for now, after murder, rape, kidnapping and sodomy charges against him were dismissed in a Chambers County courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

This news comes as a family still waits for answers about the murder of their loved one.

According to the district attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Chambers County, the 2015 murder and rape charges against Stacey Gray are dropped following DNA evidence being excluded from the case. The trial was anticipated to begin on June 1.

During jury selection, a Chambers County judge informed jurors that there had been a development in the case and they were dismissed after lunch. The search for justice continues for Renee Eldridge’s family.

According to police, Stacey Gray raped and killed the 25-year-old in 2015. Police went on to say that Eldridge’s body was found face down in a creek under Hopewell Road Bridge in Chambers County.

Officials say that her neck, feet, and hands were all tied together with a nylon rope, and a rope with a cement block attached was tied at her feet. The family of Renee Eldridge told News Leader 9 that “the last six years have been pure hell” for them.

In 2016, police charged Gray with one count of capital murder and one count of capital rape for the Columbus woman’s death.

“So Stacey Gray - all charges were dismissed in the state of Alabama because they believe this should be a Columbus trial. So, we’re hoping to get a warrant, but we don’t know how that’s going to happen,” said Nicole Hawk, Eldridge’s sister. We really need Columbus. That’s the biggest thing. We need the Columbus Police Department to jump on this now,” Hawk continued.

According to Eldridge’s family, Gray was not charged in Georgia because, initially, it was believed that the crime happened in Alabama.

Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman told News Leader 9 that Gray has warrants in Muscogee County for false imprisonment and rape. Gray is currently awaiting extradition to the Muscogee County Jail.

In a statement from the Fifth Judicial Circuit, District Attorney Jeremy Deurr said, “Without this key evidence, it became impossible to prove our case in an Alabama court, and we are actively seeking the assistance of agencies to see that justice is not similarly suppressed.”

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