Murder conviction in Dimond Center shooting overturned, may be retried

 Terence Gray, seen during his 2014 sentencing for the killing of Edwing Matos.
Terence Gray, seen during his 2014 sentencing for the killing of Edwing Matos. (KTUU)
Published: Mar. 8, 2019 at 11:20 AM AKST
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The conviction of a man who shot and killed a man in the Dimond Center mall in 2010 was overturned by the Alaska Court of Appeals, and may go to re-trial.

In 2010, Terence Gray was arrested for shooting Edwing Matos in Anchorage's busy Dimond Center Mall, reportedly leaving him face down in a pool of his own blood.

In 2014, after less than a day of jury deliberation, Gray was convicted of second-degree murder, and was later sentenced to 50 years, with 10 suspended.

This week, the Alaska Court of Appeals overturned Gray's conviction for second-degree murder, saying that the jury should have been given instructions on the "heat of passion" defense.

Gray appealed his conviction based on the lack of instruction to jurors on the "heat of passion," which the court agreed with, and two other claims, which were rejected.

The story of the killing began when the victim, Matos, reportedly had his home broken into, and several belongings stolen, including a Sony Playstation.

That console was later spotted for sale on Craigslist, and Matos confirmed that it was his. He arranged to meet with the seller, later identified as Gray.

The two exchanged words, captured on surveillance footage sitting together on a bench in the mall. Moments later, Matos was shot and killed by Gray.

In his defense, Gray's public defender said the shooting was an act of self-defense, and that he was frightened by Matos, and felt he was in a "shoot or be shot" situation.

At trial, the defense of being frightened was deemed not sufficient to introduce a "heat of passion" defense. The Court of Appeals ruled this month that decision was mistaken, and that his frightened state was enough to submit the defense to the jury.

Now, one of two things may happen. The State has the choice to either retry Gray for second degree murder or, instead, to have the Superior Court enter a conviction for manslaughter.

The court opinion says manslaughter is the crime for which Gray would have been convicted, had the jury agreed with the heat of passion defense.