Mountain murder charge laid

A murder charge has finally been laid in the case of a Mountain Institution inmate found dead in his cell shared with another prisoner.

A murder charge has finally been laid in the case of a Mountain Institution inmate found dead in his cell shared with another prisoner.

Michael Wayne McGray, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Jeremy Michael Phillips on Nov. 23, 2010.

While the case of one dead prisoner found in a locked cell with another live prisoner might seem open and shut to the public, police investigators did not have the luxury of jumping to conclusions, an RCMP spokesman told The Progress.

“Nothing is really open and shut in homicide or law enforcement any more,” RCMP Cpl. Dale Carr, spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said to explain the lengthy six-month-long delay in laying a charge.

“We just needed to have the forensic analysis to ensure that somehow, somebody else didn’t get in that cell,” he said.

And the suspect, McGray, wasn’t going anywhere, he added.

Had the murder happened in the community, police would have put a higher priority on the evidence sent to the forensic lab for analysis.

“We felt comfortable in taking out time, using our favors from the lab for other priorities,” he said.

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

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

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

It’s not certain when McGray will make his first court appearance in Chilliwack. He is not currently housed in B.C., according to prison officials.