Jeffrey Grote in 2003 (left) and 2022. (Washington State Department of Corrections)

Jeffrey Grote in 2003 (left) and 2022. (Washington State Department of Corrections)

Sentenced to 50 years in Everett slaying, he’ll get out after 21

Jeffrey Grote was 17 when he helped kill Jerry Heimann in 2001. A state board found he is a low risk to offend again.

EVERETT — Another teen convicted of murder in the 2001 killing of Jerry Heimann will get out early.

The state Indeterminate Sentence Review Board ruled this month that Jeffrey Grote can be released almost three decades early. He was 17 when he participated in Heimann’s killing and was sentenced to 50 years.

Grote, now 38, isn’t the first teen convicted in Heimann’s slaying in Everett to get an early release. Last year, Marriam Oliver, who was 14 at the time of the killing, had her 22-year prison term reduced to 20 years. She was released in October.

And earlier this month, Heather Opel, who was 13 at the time, got the same treatment — despite opposition from Heimann’s family.

Heimann, 64, had hired Heather’s mother, Barbara, as a live-in caregiver for his mother at their home in the 3700 block of 22nd Street in Everett. She wanted to kill Heimann, who had terminal cancer, and steal tens of thousands of dollars from him. So she hired a group of young people, including Heather, to do it.

Heather Opel and Grote were dating. He told the board he was searching for belonging at the time. He had felt his mother abandoned him. The Opels made Grote feel like he belonged.

Within three days of knowing the family, Barbara Opel brought up the murder plot, Grote told the review board. He said he wanted to back out, but Barbara Opel threatened him. He was to be rewarded with cash and a car in exchange for helping kill Heimann.

The young people ambushed Heimann at the home on April 13, 2001, according to court records. They hit him with baseball bats and stabbed him. From the basement, Barbara Opel, 37, yelled encouragingly.

Heather Opel’s other siblings, 7 and 11, were enlisted to help clean up. The group took Heimann’s body to the Tulalip Reservation. Meanwhile, Heimann’s mother was neglected and later found dehydrated with blood splattered on her wheelchair.

Grote told the board what he did to Heimann was “extremely terrible.”

During court proceedings in 2001, Grote said watching Heimann die made him physically ill, The Daily Herald reported at the time.

“You were upset?” the deputy prosecutor asked.

“No,” Grote responded. “Just sick to my stomach.”

One by one, the teens and the plotter were convicted and sentenced.

Barbara Opel got life without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but jurors spared her life.

Grote received the next longest sentence when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. He could’ve faced life without parole if he didn’t plead guilty and agree to the exceptional sentence that was roughly double the standard punishment. He had no previous felony or misdemeanor convictions.

The other teens got 22 years or less. Grote has now served almost 21 years.

In his time in prison, he has garnered few infractions and participated in several programs, including one titled Alternatives to Violence and educational classes from University Behind Bars. In 2016, Grote received his associate’s degree.

A 2014 change in state law opened the door for Grote to get out. The statute allows people who received lengthy sentences as juveniles in adult court to petition the state Indeterminate Sentence Review Board for a hearing after serving at least 20 years, among other requirements.

It is part of a broader reform movement to give more leniency in sentencing for younger people whose brains are still developing. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that “children are constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing.” In recent months, several men convicted in early adulthood for Snohomish County murders have had their life sentences reduced.

After a review hearing last month, the board found Grote was a low risk to commit more crimes if released with conditions, paving the way for his imminent freedom.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell pushed for the resentencings of Oliver and Heather Opel. But he disagreed with the board’s decision for Grote, arguing he had a “higher level of culpability.”

“To me, it doesn’t sit right,” he said in an interview, adding that such strong reductions in a sentence can be “incredibly frustrating, disappointing (and) destabilizing” for the victim’s family.

Grote will now work with a counselor to develop a release plan. It will then be sent to the board for approval. It can take over two months to finally get out of prison. After that, he’ll be under Department of Corrections supervision for three years.

Coming out, Grote plans to live with his sister in Snohomish County and work as a landscaper with Housing Hope. He wants to save money, buy a house, build a family, get a bachelor’s degree and help local kids.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cat killed, 9 people displaced after duplex fire in Everett

None of the people were injured in the fire reported around 1:15 a.m. in the 11500 block of Meridian Avenue S.

Brian Henrichs, left, and Emily Howe, right, begin sifting out the bugs from their bug trap along Port Susan on Monday, May 22, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘A delta for the future’: Scientists try to save salmon at Stilly’s mouth

The Stillaguamish River’s south fork once supported 20,000 salmon. In 2019, fewer than 500 fish returned to spawn.

Mountlake Terrace Library, part of the Sno-Isle Libraries, in Mountlake Terrace, Washington on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Sno-Isle workers cite safety, unfilled positions in union push

Workers also pointed to inconsistent policies and a lack of a say in decision-making. Leadership says they’ve been listening.

A view over the Port of Everett Marina looking toward the southern Whidbey Island fault zone in March 2021. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County agencies to simulate major disaster

The scenario will practice the response to an earthquake or tsunami. Dozens of agencies will work with pilots.

A few weeks before what could be her final professional UFC fight, Miranda Granger grimaces as she pushes a 45-pound plate up her driveway on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Her daughter Austin, age 11 months, is strapped to her back. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Daily Herald staff wins 5 honors at annual journalism competition

The Herald got one first-place win and four runner-up spots in SPJ’s Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.

Panelists from different areas of mental health care speak at the Herald Forum about mental health care on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At panel, mental health experts brainstorm answers to staff shortages

Workforce shortages, insurance coverage and crisis response were in focus at the Snohomish forum hosted by The Daily Herald.

Kamiak High School is pictured Friday, July 8, 2022, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kamiak football coach fired amid sexual misconduct investigation

Police believe Julian Willis, 34, sexually abused the student in portable classrooms on Kamiak High School’s campus.

Compass Health’s building on Broadway in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Compass class teaches first aid — for mental health

A one-day course hosted in Snohomish County is designed to triage behavioral health challenges: “This gave me many more tools.”

The Wilderness Land Trust transferred a 354-acre property straddling the Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness Areas to public ownership, adding it to the designated wilderness areas. (The Wilderness Land Trust)
Wild Sky Wilderness grows 345 acres, as transfer chips at private land

The Wilderness Land Trust announced it had completed a transfer near Silvertip Peak to the U.S. Forest Service.

Most Read