Accused killer tells court he’ll plead guilty

Michael Wayne McGray, charged with the first-degree murder of a prison cellmate, says he will plead guilty

Michael Wayne McGray, charged with the first-degree murder of a prison cellmate, says he will plead guilty — if he doesn’t have to leave the Quebec prison where he is being held in a special handling unit (SHU).

In a video appearance in Chilliwack Monday, McGray said he would enter a guilty plea to the murder charge – or to a lesser charge if the court won’t allow a video plea on the murder charge – to avoid “the whole circus” of a trial in B.C.

“If I can deal with that (murder charge) from here … I’m prepared to deal with that charge right now in the SHU,” he said.

“I’m not going to get out of prison,” McGray said.

This is his seventh first-degree murder charge, he added, and, “I’m well aware of the legalities of what I’m doing.”

“It’s not like I’m not of sound mind or anything,” he said.

McGray told the court he was refused a legal aid lawyer, and that he preferred to represent himself, if the case does go to trial.

“I’m asking to represent myself, that’s what I’m asking today,” he said.

However, it’s unlikely the court would allow McGray to enter a guilty plea — whether by video or in person — without legal counsel, and a lawyer may be appointed by the court.

Crown counsel Grant Lindsey said he will ask duty counsel in Chilliwack to be present to advise McGray at the next court hearing.

Asked if he was prepared to make another video appearance on Nov. 28, McGray replied, “absolutely. I want to get this done with.”

McGray, 45, was charged last May with the first-degree murder of 33-year-old Jeremy Michael Phillips, who was found dead in his cell at Mountain Institution on Nov. 23, 2010.

Prison officials have refused to disclose why McGray, a serial killer from Moncton, New Brunswick with six murder convictions, was transferred from Kent maximum-security prison to the medium-security Mountain Institution.

Phillips reportedly asked prison officials to move him out of the cell he shared with McGray because of concerns for his safety.

Phillips was halfway through a six-year sentence for aggravated assault when he died. He was also from the same Moncton area as McGray.

Chilliwack Progress