Woman won’t face death penalty in Everett killings

EVERETT — An Oregon woman won’t face the possibility of the death penalty for her alleged role in killing an Everett couple, Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe said Friday.

Holly Grigsby, 25, is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

Her co-defendant, David J. “Joey” Pedersen, previously pleaded guilty to the same charges and has been sentenced to life in prison.

Aggravated first-degree murder in Washington carries two possible sentences: death or life in prison with no chance for parole.

The Oregon pair, with ties to white supremacists, are accused of killing Pedersen’s estranged father, David “Red” Pedersen and his wife, Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen, in September. The defendants also are suspects in slayings in Oregon and California.

The pair could still face the death penalty in the slayings in Oregon and California.

Federal prosecutors could consolidate the cases and prosecute the killings as hate crimes. In Oregon, the Lincoln County district attorney has announced plans to prosecute the couple for a killing there and has been waiting for the case here against Grigsby to be resolved before he seeks their extradition.

Prosecutors allege that Red Pedersen, 56, was shot once in the back of the head while he drove the young couple to the bus station in Everett. Joey Pedersen was accused of firing the fatal shot.

Investigators believe the pair returned to the Everett couple’s home to kill DeeDee Pedersen, 69. Police found her bound with duct tape. Her throat had been slashed. The evidence suggests that Grigsby wielded the knives, court papers said.

Prosecutors charged the case based on the theory that the killings were committed during a robbery that included stealing a Jeep and multiple credit and debit cards.

Roe said he weighed several factors in deciding how to approach Grigsby’s case.

“There is ample evidence that co-defendant David J. Pedersen’s hatred for his father was the primary motivation for these crimes,” Roe said. “Inarguably, the nature of this defendant’s alleged physical acts, committed against a completely innocent victim, Leslie Pedersen, almost defy description.”

Roe said he had to take other factors into consideration. Grigsby had no previous violent criminal history, is relatively young and appears to have been following Joey Pedersen’s lead.

“Proportionality also weighs against seeking death for (Grigsby) after declining to do so for her co-defendant who was older, instigated the crimes, and had more criminal history, some of it violent,” Roe said.

In the decision not to seek the death penalty against Joey Pedersen, Roe said the police investigation turned up “significant and credible” evidence that Red Pedersen had sexually abused his children and others decades ago. Joey Pedersen went public with the allegations after his arrest in October. He claimed the abuse was the reason why he chose to kill his father.

DeeDee Pedersen had nothing to do with the abuse, and wasn’t married to Red Pedersen at the time, the prosecutor said.

Lori Nemitz, one of DeeDee Pedersen’s grown children, said she anticipated the prosecutor’s office would make the decision not to seek the death penalty against Grigsby after declining to do so against Joey Pedersen.

“Unfortunately after his was life and the way the laws work, it was not a surprise,” she said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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