Sexism Charged In Controversial Marine Murder Case -- Cops Cleared Woman Who Shot Intruder

WASHINGTON - For weeks, he had been stalking her, threatening her.

When Marine Cpl. Anthony Goree broke into her Woodbridge, Va., apartment last June at 3 a.m., wielding a bayonet, Rayna Ross, also a Marine, shot and killed him with a .380 semiautomatic handgun. It was justifiable homicide, Prince William County, Va., police said.

But now the Marine Corps has charged Ross with murder. And Prince William County police and others are outraged.

Although the slaying occurred outside the Quantico Marine Corps Base, the corps was required to investigate it because two Marines were involved. In December, Ross was charged with murder, and last week she appeared before a Quantico, Va., judge who is expected to recommend within two weeks whether she should be court-martialed, officials said.

"I'm appalled but not surprised," said Patricia Gromley, a former Marine and director of the Military Project of the Women's Resource and Education Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "For the military to pick up on this after the local prosecutor found it justifiable is way out of bounds.

"They couldn't get a single prosecution in Tailhook, but, by God, they're going to get her," said Gromley, adding that she suspected sexism in the Marine investigation.

Richard Cantarella, a Prince William County police detective who investigated the shooting, testified at Ross' Quantico hearing.

"There was no question that this was self-defense," Cantarella said.

Within days of the killing, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert declared it justifiable.

"Anybody who breaks into a home armed, particularly with his history, I think, is asking to be killed," Ebert said Friday.

In addition to being represented by a Marine lawyer, Ross, 22, is getting advice from a civilian lawyer who is counsel for the National Rifle Association.

NRA lawyer Michael Patrick Murray, a retired Marine colonel, theorized that the basis for the charges against Ross was a 30-page report to the judge advocate general of the Navy, which called Ross "a spider woman" who "lured men into untenable positions and dumped them."

Murray said the Marine report recommended that Ross be investigated for possible criminal intent.

Maj. Barry Moore, public-affairs officer for Quantico, said the decision to charge Ross was based on the initial civilian investigation as well as that of the Naval Criminal Investigative Services. He said he was not aware of an additional report to the judge advocate general.

Goree, 26, "posed a threat" to Ross, his commanding officer had noted before the killing. However, Moore said the issue of Goree's stalking Ross "never came up for us in the investigation."

At the time of the shooting last June 23, Goree had just been released from a military jail where he had been confined for assaulting and threatening Ross. He assaulted Ross at least twice last June, Murray said. The first time, Goree broke into her apartment and held her at knife-point all day, Murray said.

On the June night when he was killed, Goree entered Ross' apartment by prying a sliding glass door off its tracks, then went to Ross' bedroom, where she was asleep with her 2-year-old daughter and a friend who was lying on the floor, police reports say. Ross fired twice at Goree, killing him with the second bullet, police records say.