Couple arraigned in Wash. in Northwest crime spree

AP News

10/19/2011 5:33:00 PM - AP News

A couple accused in a deadly crime spree through the Northwest pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two counts of aggravated murder.

David "Joey" Pedersen and Holly Grigsby wore orange jail uniforms during their separate appearances at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle. Several family members attended the hearing, holding hands as they entered the courtroom.

The couple is charged in the deaths of Pedersen's father, David "Red" Pedersen, and his wife, Leslie Pedersen, in Everett around Sept. 26.

In interviews with a reporter and police, the couple said they killed Pedersen's father because he molested two young relatives. They also said they killed his wife because she knew about the abuse and still supported him.

Everett police have emphasized that investigators haven't confirmed the defendants' story. However, Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Craig Matheson wrote in a probable cause statement that Grigsby confessed during a five-hour, videotaped interview with Oregon state police.

A judge on Wednesday set trial for Dec. 2, although that is likely to be postponed. The prosecutor has until Nov. 14 to decide whether to seek the death penalty, although that date also could be extended.

The prosecutor's office said family members of the defendants didn't wish to speak to the media and asked reporters to honor the family's request not to approach them on Wednesday. Asked how the relatives were holding up, deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson would say only, "They had two people they loved who were brutally killed."

Pedersen, 31, and Grigsby, 24, are also suspected of killing Cody Myers near Philomath, Ore., and Reginald Alan Clark in Eureka, Calif., in a spree that ended with their arrest Oct. 6 outside Yuba City, Calif.

Authorities had been tracking them by use of stolen credit cards and had warned police in several states to be on the lookout. Police officer spotted the couple in Myers' car.

When Grigsby was arrested, she said "the couple was on their way to Sacramento to `kill more Jews,'" Matheson wrote.

Pedersen admitted killing a man in Eureka on Oct. 3 or 4, the probable cause statement said. The crime matched an open investigation into the death of Clark, who was found dead with a bullet wound to the head.