A white supremacist pleaded guilty today to killing his father and stepmother last fall before embarking on what an Oregon sheriff called a “vicious, wild reign of terror” that ended after two more people were killed.
The guilty pleas from 31-year-old David “Joey” Pedersen came in Everett, Wash., after Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe said he wouldn’t seek the death penalty because there was “significant and credible” evidence that Pedersen had been sexually abused as a child by his father.
Pedersen is expected to be sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, The Everett Herald reported.
The gravity of it all appeared lost on Pedersen during his brief court appearance.
As family members of victims listened in the courtroom, he joked and offered a wisecrack about being promised a “double whopper with cheese” as part of the plea deal.
Pedersen, who had been released from prison shortly before the murder spree last September and October, still faces charges, not yet filed, for killing a 19-year-old man he mistakenly thought was Jewish in Oregon and a 53-year-old black man in Eureka, Calif.
Pedersen’s girlfriend, Holly Ann Grigsby, was arrested with Pederson in a stolen car on Oct. 5 and also faces charges in the murders. After their arrest, she told authorities that she and Pedersen “were on their way to Sacramento to kill more Jews,” the Washington state arrest affidavit says.
Instead of separate state prosecutions, the additional murder cases could be handled with a federal prosecution, authorities say.
The killing rampage began when David “Red” Pedersen, 56, was fatally shot in the head as he took his son and Grigsby to a bus station in Everett on Sept. 26. The suspects then returned to the Pedersen home in Everett, where Leslie “Dee Dee” Pedersen’s throat was slashed after she was bound with duct tape. A sword was found near the body.
The prosecutor issued a prepared statement saying he didn’t believe a jury would impose a death sentence on a defendant who had been sexually abused by the person he murdered.
“The police investigation revealed that many years ago when his children were young, the late David Pedersen engaged in child abuse,” the prosecutor’s statement said. “Significant, credible evidence exists that he engaged in multiple acts of child sexual abuse, victimizing his own children, and others.”
Since his arrest in California, Joey Pederson has repeatedly confessed to killing his father, citing the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
“Whether that was his true, sole or only motivation is less certain, but what is certain is that any jury considering his fate would first hear hours, days, or perhaps weeks of testimony on the subject, some of it from the actual victims of the abuse,” Roe said in his prepared statement.
“Neither my senior attorneys, myself, nor members of the investigative team believe that with what a jury would hear, there is any reasonable chance of them unanimously returning with a verdict of death for this defendant,” Roe said. “As such, I will not seek a death sentence I believe we cannot realistically achieve, despite my feeling that such a sentence would be justified.”
Joey Pedersen, who sports various white supremacy tattoos, has four prior felony convictions, including one for threatening to murder a federal judge in Idaho who handled the “Ruby Ridge” case of white separatist Randy Weaver. Weaver’s wife and son and a deputy U.S. marshal were killed in a 1992 standoff in North Idaho.
Roe did not say Monday if he'll seek the death penalty for Grigsby, but it would be unusual for the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office to seek the death penalty for one defendant and not the other, the Everett newspaper reported.
After Pedersen is sentenced, he still faces likely charges for the slaying of Cody Myers, 19, of Lafayette, Ore., and Reginald Alan Clark, 53, found shot to death in his truck in Eureka, Calif.
“I don’t know who intends to do what next, in terms of prosecutions,” Roe told Hatewatch, “but I want everyone to know he won’t be getting out of prison in the meantime.”