Hartford, Connecticut – A Connecticut man accused of murder in the 2007 shooting death of Delano “Dela” Gray is finally set to face a jury after more than a decade. Donald Raynor, 38, has been incarcerated since his arrest on June 14, 2013. His bond is currently set at $1.5 million.
Raynor will appear in a Hartford courtroom on January 8 for one of the final pre-trial hearings before jury selection begins next month. While he has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, this will be the third time he has faced a jury in connection to Gray’s killing.
The case first went to trial in 2014, but it ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury. In the following year, Raynor was found guilty and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but his conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2020. Since then, delays caused by COVID-19 related court closures, as well as lab reports and ballistics testing, have stalled his case.
In a letter sent from jail, Raynor expressed his hope for the upcoming hearings in 2024. He maintains his innocence and believes the state’s oppression will be exposed, leading to his exoneration.
The victim, Delano Gray, was found shot multiple times in a driveway on June 18, 2007. The shooting was believed to be related to a conflict between the “Ave” street gang, of which Gray was a known member, and the rival gang Money Green Bedroc. Raynor, also known as Amen or Don Juan, was identified as the leader of Money Green Bedroc.
A cooperating coconspirator confessed that Raynor shot and killed Gray, stating they were looking for someone to shoot that night. The warrant affidavit confirmed the details of the shooting, including the number of shots fired.
Raynor’s case has faced numerous delays, leaving his family frustrated and confused. His brother, Byron Raynor, expressed the hope that his brother’s bond would be lowered and highlighted the stress and limbo they have experienced throughout the past decade.
Despite the setbacks, Judge David P. Gold denied the request to reduce Raynor’s bond, stating that the amount was reasonable considering the nature of the case.
Raynor, who has spent 10 years and 6 months locked up without an upheld conviction, remains hopeful as he awaits his next trial. His family continues to support him, attending every court appearance throughout the years.
If found not guilty or exonerated, Raynor plans to study law and advocate for the wrongfully convicted or incarcerated.
Delano Gray’s family could not be reached for comment. Gray, who was engaged at the time of his death, was making plans to attend school in New York later that summer.
Donald Raynor’s trial, which has faced extensive delays, highlights the challenges and frustrations faced by those involved in the justice system. The upcoming jury selection and trial will determine Raynor’s fate in connection to Gray’s killing.