Colorado Man Charged with Participation in Vermont Kidnapping and Murder
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that today, Jerry Banks, 35, of Fort Garland, Colorado was charged with a murder-for-hire conspiracy and the kidnapping of Gregory Davis, a resident of Danville, Vermont, on January 6, 2018, resulting in Davis’s death. Banks was added as a defendant to the murder-for-hire conspiracy case already pending against Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, of Los Angeles, California, and Berk Eratay, 36, of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Following an exhaustive investigation by detectives with the Vermont State Police and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement obtained a criminal complaint in April 2022 that charged Banks with kidnapping Davis. According to the complaint affidavit, Banks arrived at Davis’s Danville residence on the evening of January 6, 2018, posing as a United States Marshal claiming to arrest Davis. Davis was found dead the next day in a snowbank on a Barnet, Vermont road several miles from the Davis residence.
In May 2022, in a separate case, the grand jury charged Gumrukcu and Eratay with conspiring in a murder-for-hire scheme, resulting in Davis’s death. According to court records, Gumrukcu and Davis were involved in a business dispute at the time of Davis’s murder. Court records outline evidence that Eratay contacted Aron Ethridge, on Gumrukcu’s behalf, to find someone to kill Davis. Ethridge then enlisted Banks as the hitman. Court records allege that Eratay paid Ethridge over $100,000 to murder Davis.
On May 24, 2022, Gumrukcu was arrested in Los Angeles and Eratay was arrested in Las Vegas. Both have been held in custody since that date. Gumrukcu was arraigned on the murder-for-hire conspiracy charge today in United States District Court in Burlington in front of Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford. Last week, Judge Crawford denied Eratay’s request to be released from custody pending trial. Ethridge has pleaded guilty to hiring Banks to murder Davis and conspiring to kidnap Davis.
The charges in the superseding indictment carry a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The superseding indictment contains accusations only, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The prosecutors are Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Van de Graaf and Jonathan Ophardt. Banks is represented by Michael Desautels and Mary Nerino from the Federal Public Defender’s Office. Ethridge is represented by Mark Kaplan, Esq. Eratay is represented by Robert Katims, Esq. Gumrukcu is represented by David Kirby, Esq.
U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Vermont State Police for their collaborative investigation of Davis’s murder. U.S. Attorney Kerest also thanked the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations for assisting in the ongoing investigation.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psn