EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of his father and stepmother after a prosecutor decided not to seek the death penalty.
David "Joey" Pedersen, 31, is set to be sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole, the only other possible sentence, The Daily Herald reported (http://is.gd/oCxIAI ).
Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe has not yet announced a decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Pedersen's girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, 28, who also was charged with aggravated murder in the September killings of 56-year-old David "Red" Pedersen and 69-year-old Leslie "DeeDee" Pedersen.
The prosecutor said he declined to pursue the death sentence for Joey Pederson after police turned up significant and credible evidence that his father had sexually abused his children and others decades ago. Joey Pedersen said the abuse was the reason he chose to kill his father.
Joey Pedersen and Grigsby, who have white supremacist ties, also are accused of killing 19-year-old Cody Myers in western Oregon because his name sounded Jewish, and Reginald Clark near Eureka, Calif., because he was black. Those crimes potentially could result in federal prosecution because of civil rights issues.
Red Pedersen was shot once in the back of the head while he drove the suspects to a bus station in Everett after a visit. His son was accused of firing the fatal shot. Investigators believe the suspects then returned to the couple's home to kill DeeDee Pedersen.
Investigators found her bound with duct tape with her throat slashed. The evidence suggests Grigsby wielded the knives, court papers said.
DeeDee Pedersen was not married to Red Pederson at the time of the alleged child abuse and was in no position to prevent or even know about it, Roe said.
Family members of the victims did not agree with the prosecutor's decision against seeking the death penalty, even though Roe said it would have been appropriate.
"They were disappointed, but I believe understand my decision and my reasons for it," Roe said in a statement.
Joey Pedersen was an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter. He grew up in Salem, Ore, and spent more than half of his life in prison, including an 11-year stint for threatening to murder a federal judge in Idaho. He was released in May.
After the homicides, investigators said he and Grigsby drove to Oregon in Red Pedersen's Jeep and ditched the vehicle with the slain man still inside off a logging road. Authorities believe they crossed paths with Cody Myers, who had left home to attend a jazz festival near the Oregon coast. Myers, a devout Christian, turned up dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Investigators believe the couple continued to Eureka, where Clark, a disabled black man, was killed.
The suspects were arrested Oct. 5 north of Sacramento.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com