Serial killer pleads guilty to prison cell murder

Convicted serial killer Michael Wayne McGray pleaded guilty Monday to the first-degree murder of his cellmate at Mountain Institution.

Convicted serial killer Michael Wayne McGray pleaded guilty Monday to the first-degree murder of his cellmate at Mountain Institution last November.

McGray coolly admitted in court that the killing of 33-year-old Jeremy Michael Phillips by strangling him to death in their cell on Nov. 21, 2010 would mark his seventh conviction.

“I’m 100 percent guilty of planning and committing this murder,” he said, via a video link to a special handling unit in Quebec where he is being held.

The court was reluctant to accept McGray’s guilty plea via video, especially without legal counsel, but the 45-year-old convict was adamant he did not want to return to B.C. – and he was well aware of the legal consequences, given his six earlier life sentences.

“I just want to wrap this up,” he said. “I don’t need to talk to a lawyer. In fact, I refuse. I don’t want to talk to a lawyer.”

After repeatedly asking McGray if he was aware of the what he was doing, and after ensuring his plea was made voluntarily, BC Supreme Court Justice Brian Joyce sentenced McGray to life in prison without eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Although McGray had said in an earlier court hearing that he was paid $20,000 to kill Phillips, he did not object to a summary by Crown counsel Grant Lindsey Monday that the murder started as a fake hostage-taking plan cooked up by the two convicts.

Lindsey said McGray told police after his arrest that Phillips wanted to stage a hostage-taking in which he would be tied up so that he could go to the prison infirmary and McGray could go back to Kent prison.

But McGray said he became angry with Phillips and decided to end his “bullshit” and kill him.

With a razor and nail clippers, McGray told police he cut up bedsheets to tie up Phillips.

He said Phillips “gave him a hug” and then lay face down on the cot just after the 10:15 p.m. cell count so McGray could tie him up.

But instead of the hostage-taking plan, McGray said he strangled Phillips for five minutes, and then punched him in the head to make sure he wasn’t faking death.

He told police he had to kill Phillips “very quietly” because a guard was only 23 feet away.

He didn’t report Phillips’ death until the next morning.

Outside court, Lindsey said Phillips is no longer around to tell his side of the story, so it’s unclear whether there ever was a hostage-taking plan or whether it was a contract killing.

Correction officials have to date refused to disclose why McGray was transferred from the Kent maximum-security prison to the medium-security Mountain Institution.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

Just Posted

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Life rings, signs to improve safety on Harrison waterfront

Harrison council approved $125,000 in aquatic safety projects for the beach

PHOTOS: Harrison students take on the Bunny Run

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary students dressed up for the Easter event

No more mobile vendors on Harrison beach

The approval of an updated business licence bylaw means Nolan Irwin is without a cart

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read