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2 face Trinity assault charges
Officials say victim was beaten, burned

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

TRINITY — Two men face charges in the ongoing investigation into the beating of a Trinity man found severely burned next to a fire, a detective with the Morgan County Sheriff's Department said Thursday.

George Jairett Gay, 28, of 605 Ghost Hill Road, Trinity, turned himself in at Morgan County Jail on Thursday. His cousin, Justin Paul Gay, 26, of 1314 Woodall Road, Lot C, Decatur, turned himself in the previous afternoon.

Investigator Pete Taylor said the Gays were responsible for the Jan. 23 assault that sent Robert Keith Harris, 48, to The University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.

Harris underwent surgery for head trauma and, once stabilized, underwent multiple surgeries for severe burns to his legs and abdomen. Harris remains at UAB and continues to receive extensive treatment due to complications from the injuries.

"He (Harris) told investigators that he was attacked, beaten and kicked by those two suspects on that night," Taylor said.

It remains unknown how Harris wound up in a fire outside George Gay's residence. At the time he was interviewed by investigators, Harris was suffering apparent memory loss as a result of head trauma, Taylor said.

"I don't know how he got to the fire at this time, but I do believe they (the Gays) were somehow responsible," Taylor said.

Harris and the Gays were socializing at the residence that night, Taylor said.

They apparently built a small fire outside.

"I have reason to believe that a quarrel of some sort ensued and that, combined with the large amount of alcohol they had consumed, there was something that sparked the incident," Taylor said.

The fight apparently began inside the mobile home and moved outdoors, Taylor said.

He said neighbors overheard Harris' cries and called George Gay's parents, who live a short distance away on Holt Road.

The parents found Harris in the burn pile and called 911. Gay's father "denied pulling him out of the burn pile, but he did admit to finding him there," Taylor said.

Authorities originally thought an intoxicated Harris fell into the fire by accident. When it became apparent there was more to the story, Trinity police asked the Sheriff's Department to investigate.

George and Justin Gay each face a charge of first-degree assault. Each was released from Morgan County Jail on $1,500 bond.

Taylor said he decided to charge the Gays with the Class B felony because the attack on Harris resulted in disabling and disfiguring injuries.

As the investigation continues, further arrests may be made, Taylor said.

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