Orem man gets life without parole for stabbing death of girlfriend

Published: Monday, May 20 2013 2:15 p.m. MDT

Jennifer Brackenbury, 44, was stabbed more than 40 times and found dead in her Orem home on Oct. 23, 2012. Her live-in boyfriend, Steven Gray, 44, was ordered Monday to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for her death.

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PROVO — An Orem man who pleaded guilty to stabbing his live-in girlfriend more than 40 times was sentenced to life in prison Monday.

Steven Gray, 44, was ordered by 4th District Judge Claudia Laycock to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; one to 15 years in prison for mayhem, a second-degree felony; and up to five years in prison for abuse or desecration of a body, a third-degree felony, in the October murder of his girlfriend, Jennifer Brackenbury.

The judge ordered the sentences to run consecutive to each other and also ordered Gray to pay $1,600 in restitution to Brackenbury's brother.

The body of the 44-year-old woman was found in the trailer home the couple shared in Orem.

Prosecutors say Gray stabbed the woman multiple times before putting cleaning chemicals on the body to prevent odor or decay. He then tried to clean up the scene, moved the woman's body to a bathroom and attempted to seal off the body by tying off doors and windows of the home.

The man drove Brackenbury's car to Washington, where he told police he found the woman dead in the trailer. The woman's body was found in the trailer, and police say Gray eventually confessed in Yakima, Wash.

Gray was initially facing five charges, including object rape and obstructing justice, but the charges were amended as part of the plea agreement. Gray pleaded guilty to the charges in March.

Earlier this month, he sent a letter to the judge asking to withdraw his plea. He sent a second letter complaining about the conditions in the Utah County Jail.

Gray's concerns "were more directly related his treatment at the jail — not really related to his entry of his pleas," court records indicate. Laycock apparently questioned Gray at the sentencing hearing Monday and was told that the man wanted to leave his pleas in place and proceed with sentencing.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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