Jury finds Gold Bar couple guilty of murder

EVERETT — David Grimm was in the way.

He wouldn’t move out of his ex-girlfriend’s Gold Bar home. She was dating a new man and they wanted to be together.

“Someone wanted David Grimm dead because then life would be better with him out of the way,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said.

Debra Canady, 46, was accused of plotting to kill Grimm. Her new beau, Brent Starr, 31, was accused of carrying out the plan to get rid of the ex-boyfriend once and for all.

A jury on Thursday convicted Canady and Starr of first-degree murder for the June 26 bludgeoning. Jurors deliberated for about three hours following a week of testimony. The couple face at least 22 years in prison.

Grimm, 49, was asleep inside Canady’s home June 26 when he was attacked with a hammer. He was struck in the head more than 20 times. He may have tried to call for help but died in bed.

“David Grimm suffered a horrible, brutal death,” Stemler told jurors. “He didn’t die right away.”

During closing arguments, Stemler encouraged the jury to study the text messages recovered from the couple’s phones. The messages were proof that Canady and Starr talked about killing Grimm days before his death, Stemler said. Evidence showed that Canady attempted to buy deadly oleander seeds and may have been planning to poison Grimm, Stemler said. Starr purchased a gun and stalked Grimm prior to the slaying, the prosecutor added.

Not only did Canady want Grimm out of her life, she stood to make more than $200,000 off his death, Stemler told the jurors. She was named as a beneficiary for three of his life insurance policies. As for Starr, he had just been awarded custody of his young daughter and needed a more permanent place to live. Grimm was standing in the way of his moving out of the traveler trailer where he was staying and into Canady’s house, Stemler said.

The prosecutor said text messages between the Canady and Starr during the morning Grimm was killed also proved they were behind his murder.

Starr sent Canady a message stating “its done.” Canady replied back, asking “was it quiet” and then warned Starr that he may have to get rid of his clothes “if they come to question you.”

She directed Starr to erase the messages, Stemler said.

Defense attorneys Anna Goykhman and Karen Halverson, both of Everett, attacked the reliability of the text messages. They argued that portions of the messages were missing and reminded jurors that the cell phone service provider testified that there were problems downloading all of the messages from the phones.

“There’s a corruption in the data and things are missing,” Goykhman said. The prosecution’s case “sits on shaky ground not supported by real evidence.”

Halverson argued that the prosecutor failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Canady assisted or encouraged the killing, or was in any way an accomplice.

“Debra Canady didn’t kill anybody. There’s not one shred of evidence that links her to that crime,” Halverson said.

Jurors disagreed.

Canady and Starr were led away in handcuffs. They are scheduled to be sentenced June 2.

After the verdict was read, Grimm’s mother hugged Stemler and Pat VanderWeyst, the lead detective.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com.

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