Family speaks out at Elliot’s sentencing phase

Dana Thrall’s mother described her daughter as “fun, curious, intelligent and stubborn” Thursday during the sentencing phase of the trial of the man convicted of her murder.

Larry Bill Elliott, 53, of Hanover, Md., was convicted Wednesday of the capital murder of Dana Thrall, 25, and first degree murder of Robert Finch, 30. The Woodbridge couple were shot to death in Thrall’s Rollingwood Village town house in January 2001. The jury deliberated Thursday whether to recommend life in prison or death. Deliberations will continue today.

Thursday morning, members of Thrall’s family talked about her and the impact of her death on their lives since. Thrall’s brother and sister-in-law told jurors about Dana Thrall’s two sons, who now live with them. The boys, then four and six, were upstairs when their mother and Finch were killed.

“They were aural witnesses to it all,” Cameron Thrall, Dana’s brother and the boys’ guardian said Thursday.

“Throughout this entire trial I’ve been thinking about those two boys. I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney James A. Willett said in closing arguments Thursday. Willett said when the boys are old enough he wanted Cameron Thrall to be able to tell them, “At the trial of the man who murdered your mother … it was the jury’s decision to impose the most severe punishment. That’s how important she was.”

Prosecutors said in opening statements that Elliott was jealous of Finch, who was embroiled in a child custody battle with Rebecca Gragg. Elliott was infatuated with Gragg, an adult escort and stripper he met on the internet. She placed an ad for a “sugar daddy” on an adult personals site, and he responded. During their 18-month relationship, he provided her with furnished homes, a car, cell phone, credit card and breast enhancement surgery, totaling about $450,000.

“As a value it seems to me there is a problem with the notion of revenge, because it never stops,” defense attorney William Moffitt argued. “I suggest to you an eye for an eye is a value that has outlived its usefulness. Ghandi says it better: ‘If we took an eye for an eye, we would all be blind.’ It’s not a value we can carry to the 21st century.”

Multiple friends and co-workers of Elliott’s testified on his behalf, describing a dedicated Army officer and government worker who served his country and saved American lives. Elliott’s wife, Kathleen, flipped through a family photo album, describing pictures of Elliott with their 15-year-old daughter and their family on cruises and family trips.

“We’re being asked to take a man’s life. Since we can’t take it back, I ask you to think about how you judge the value of a man’s life,” Moffitt said.

None of Elliott’s supporters knew of his relationship with Gragg. Elliott and Gragg transferred $200,000 from an account in Kathleen Elliott’s name to his. During the 18 months he spent $450,000 on Gragg.

This is the second jury to consider Elliott’s fate. Elliott was tried and convicted in July 2002, and in August 2002, a jury recommended the death penalty. That conviction and jury recommendation were overturned in September 2002. Moffitt presented evidence of juror misconduct to the court and successfully argued for a new trial.

Jurors will continue deliberating this morning.