Co-Defendants David “Joey” Pedersen and Holly Grigsby

 

 

A woman who took part in a Pacific Northwest killing rampage, including the deaths of an Everett couple, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole.

July 15, 2014

PORTLAND — A woman who took part in a Pacific Northwest killing rampage fueled by white-supremacist beliefs apologized for her actions, but not her views.

Holly Grigsby, 27, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with no chance for release.

She apologized in federal court to friends and relatives of the victims. Grigsby said she realized any explanation for her actions, such as her drug addiction, would come across as an excuse, “or make it feel like I’m rationalizing my own insane behavior.”

But Grigsby expressed no regret for white-supremacist beliefs, only the effect her crimes would have on their public perception.

“My actions have further damaged the reputation of a movement misunderstood,” she said. “I deeply regret this.”

Grigsby and her boyfriend — David “Joey” Pedersen — were arrested in 2011 after the deaths of four people: Pedersen’s father and stepmother in Everett, an Oregon teenager and a California man.

Grigsby pleaded guilty in March to racketeering charges connected to the four killings, and the plea agreement called for a life sentence with no chance for release.

Joey Pedersen has pleaded guilty to two counts of carjacking resulting in death — one for the death of teenager Cody Myers on the Oregon coast and the other for the killing of Reginald Clark in Eureka, Calif. He will be sentenced to life in prison at an Aug. 4 hearing in federal court.

He previously pleaded guilty in Washington state court to murder in the slayings of David “Red” Pedersen and Leslie “Dee Dee” Pedersen and was sentenced to life in prison.

Dee Dee Pedersen’s daughter, Lori Nemitz, told Grigsby in court that the murders were heinous and “beyond cruel,” and made no sense since Grigsby had been welcomed into the home as family.

“I hugged you, for God’s sake,” Nemitz said.

Pedersen is the founder of a white-supremacist prison gang, and he told Grigsby about his desire to start a revolution with a killing rampage targeting Jewish leaders.

It started on Sept. 26, 2011, when Pedersen shot his father in the back of the head while the elder Pedersen was driving, authorities said. Red Pedersen moved and moaned for at least 30 minutes before dying, prosecutors said.

Pedersen and Grigsby returned to the house. Dee Dee Pedersen was bound with duct tape, cut in the neck and left to bleed to death.

“Animals are treated more humanely going to slaughter than your victims were,” said Holly Perez, the daughter of Red Pedersen and sister of Joey Pedersen.

The couple then drove Red Pedersen’s vehicle south into Oregon, where they shot and killed 19-year-old Myers and stole his car, authorities said. They shot Myers, who was Christian, because his name sounded Jewish, according to court documents.

Pedersen and Grigsby then headed to Northern California, where Clark, a 53-year-old black man, was shot to death.

Grigsby and Pedersen were arrested Oct. 5, 2011, outside Yuba City, Calif., when a police officer spotted them in Myers’ car. Grigsby told officers they were on their way to Sacramento to “kill more Jews,’” court documents said.

Prosecutors said Grigsby has been a white supremacist since her early teens and did not fall under Pedersen’s spell.

Store credit ****Steven Dubois – The Associated Press*****

 

Holly Grigsby apologizes to victims’ families, white supremacist movement; gets life sentence

 

Turning to face the grieving family members of those she helped kill, Holly Ann Grigsby said she wasn’t going to blame abuse, drugs or a tough childhood to explain the murderous path she cut with David “Joey” Pedersen across three states in fall 2011.

Instead, “the desperation in my heart” as she relapsed back into drug addiction fueled her actions that have hurt not only the victims and their families, but her own husband and son and even the white-supremacist movement whose beliefs she continues to embrace, she said.

“My actions have further damaged the reputation of a movement misunderstood,” she said. “I deeply regret this. Although I had nothing but the best of intentions, the bridge to Valhalla is not paved with good intentions” but with one’s actions and heart, she said.

Grigsby words came just before Senior U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty sentenced the 27-year-old Portland woman to spend the rest of her life in prison. Grigsby had pleaded guilty in March to one count of racketeering in connection with the murders and related offenses.

A sentencing memorandum filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jane Shoemaker and Hannah Horsley laid out the government’s timeline of the killings of Pedersen’s father, David “Red” Pedersen; his stepmother, Leslie “Dee Dee” Pedersen; and two strangers, Cody Myers, 19, of Lafayette and Reginald Alan Clark, 53, of Eureka, Calif.

Grigsby and Pedersen had embarked on a campaign to wage a white-supremacist “revolution” in September 2011 planning to target Jewish organizations. They traveled to Washington state, where they spent several days with Pedersen’s father and stepmother before Joey Pedersen fatally shot his father while Red Pedersen drove Grigsby and his son around.

They took his car, weapons and credit cards. They returned to the house and used two knives to slash the throat of Dee Dee Pedersen before fleeing to Oregon. There, after getting assistance from friends Corey Wyatt and Kimberly Scott Wyatt, they carjacked and killed Myers, who had agreed to give Grigsby a ride as he was returning from the Newport Jazz Festival.

They continued to California, where they carjacked Clark, who similarly had agreed to give the couple a ride. The couple, who was headed to Sacramento to target Jewish organizations there, was arrested on Oct. 5, 2011, when a California Highway Patrol officer recognized the suspects and the vehicle description that police agencies had publicized.

The sentencing hearing Tuesday morning allowed the Pedersen family to unleash their pain on Grigsby, the first of the two admitted killers to be sentenced. Family members for Myers and Clark did not make a statement.

“How dare you go into my mother’s home where she welcomed you as family,” said Lori Nemitz, Dee Dee’s daughter, recalling the days before the slayings when Grigsby had stayed with and met members of the Pedersen family.

“I hugged you, for God’s sake,” Nemitz said, who called the torturous slaying of her mother with the dull knives “beyond heinous, beyond cruel.”

“I cannot imagine a person that would do that to an innocent woman who welcomes you as family,” she said.

Catherine Hix, a spokeswoman for another daughter, told Grigsby that she was “a wicked, heartless viper. You slithered into town with only one thing in mind – murder.”

And Holly Perez, the sister of Joey Pedersen, sobbed as she recounted the misery that all four victims must have felt in their final minutes.

“Separately, you and Joey are nothing but two cowards with a skewed ideology,” she said. And the impact extends to Grigsby’s own family, Perez noted, saying the murderer will never be able to hold her own young son in her arms ever again.

Grigsby nodded her head.

Haggerty handed down the sentence with little commentary. Because federal prison has no parole program, Grigsby will remain behind bars until she dies.

Corey Wyatt was sentenced last week for providing Pedersen, a felon, with the weapon he used to kill three of the four victims. Wyatt’s wife, Kimberly Scott Wyatt, is to be sentenced at the end of the month.

Pedersen, who pleaded guilty in April to two counts of carjacking resulting in death, is to be sentenced on Aug. 4.

 

Story Credit ***Helen Jung – Oregonian.com****
 

                                                       

Vanessa Coleman – Lemaricus Davidson – Letalvis Cobbins – George Thomas – Eric Dewayne Boyd

 

Murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom

 

Channon Gail Christian, 21, and Hugh Christopher Newsom, Jr., 23, were a couple from Knoxville, Tennessee. They were both raped, tortured and murdered after being kidnapped early on the morning of January 7, 2007. Their vehicle had been carjacked.

Five suspects were arrested and charged in the case. The grand jury indicted four of the suspects on counts of murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape and theft. Three of those arrested, Letalvis D. Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson and George Thomas, have been convicted on multiple charges including several counts of felony murder. After a jury trial Lemaricus Davidson was sentenced to death by lethal injection and Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Vanessa Coleman has been convicted of facilitating the crimes and sentenced to 53 years in prison, and Eric Dewayne Boyd has been convicted of federal charges as accessory after the fact to carjacking and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Victims

Christian moved from Louisiana to Tennessee with her family in 1997. She was a graduate of Farragut High School and a senior majoring in sociology at the University of Tennessee. On January 12, 2007, her family released a statement to thank the Knoxville community “for all their prayers and everything.” A candlelight vigil was held on the university campus January 25, 2007 in her honor. In 2008, a Golf Tournament and Memorial Foundation were established in Channon Christian’s memory to provide a scholarship for a Farragut High School Senior to attend the University of Tennessee.

Newsom, a former baseball player for the Halls High School Red Devils, graduated in 2002. He was interred at Woodhaven Memorial Gardens. A little-league baseball tournament in Newsom’s honor was held at the Halls Community Park in 2008 and 2009. A memorial scholarship is given annually to a graduating Halls High baseball player.

Crime

According to news reports, Christian and Newsom had gone on a date at a local restaurant on Saturday, January 6, 2007, but did not return home. During their night out, the couple were hijacked, bound and blindfolded by three males, and “taken back to Lemaricus Devall ‘Slim’ Davidson’s rented house on Chipman Street.”</style=”font-size:>

Christian’s parents found her abandoned Toyota 4-Runner two blocks away from the Chipman Street house the following Monday with the help of her mobile phone provider. An envelope recovered from the vehicle yielded fingerprint evidence that led police to Lemaricus Davidson and 2316 Chipman Street. When police went to the address on Tuesday, January 9, they found the home unoccupied and Christian’s body in a trash can in the kitchen.

According to the testimony of the Knox County Acting Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan at the subsequent trial of Eric Boyd, Newsom was repeatedly sodomized with an object and then blindfolded, gagged, arms and feet bound and his head covered. Barefoot, he was either led or dragged outside the house to a set of nearby railroad tracks. He was shot in the back of the head, the neck, and the back, and his body then set on fire.

Channon’s death came only after hours of sexual torture, medical examiner Mileusnic-Polchan testified. Channon suffered horrific injuries to her vagina, anus and mouth. She was not only raped but savaged with “an object,” possibly a broken chair leg, the doctor testified. She was beaten in the head. Some type of chemical was poured down her throat, and her body, including her bleeding and battered genital area, likely scrubbed with the same solution – all while Channon was alive, the forensic expert said. She was then “hog-tied,” with curtains and strips of bedding, her face covered tightly with a small trash bag and her body stashed inside five large trash bags before being placed inside a large trash can and covered with sheets. Channon died slowly, suffocating, the medical examiner said.

Suspects and indictments

 

  • George Geovonni “Detroit” Thomas, 24, faced a total of 46 charges. Thomas was indicted on 16 counts of felony murder growing out of the rape, robbery, kidnapping, and theft of Christian and Newsom, 2 counts of premeditated murder, 2 counts of especially aggravated robbery, 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft.

  • Letalvis “Rome” Cobbins, 24, (b. December 20, 1982) faced the same 46 charges as Thomas. He has also been charged with assaulting a correctional officer while incarcerated pending trial. Previously in 2003, Cobbins was convicted of third-degree attempted robbery in New York state. He and Davidson are brothers. Cobbins was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

  • Lemaricus Devall “Slim” Davidson, 25, (b. June 13, 1981) faced the same 46 charges as Thomas. Previously Davidson had just completed serving a five-year sentence in Tennessee on a previous felony conviction for carjacking and aggravated robbery on August 5, 2006.

  • Vanessa Coleman, 18, was arrested by the Lebanon Police Department in Lebanon, Kentucky. She faces 40 Tennessee state charges. Coleman was indicted on 12 counts of felony murder growing out of the rape, robbery, kidnapping, and theft of Christian and Newsom, 1 count of premeditated murder (of Christian only), 1 count of especially aggravated robbery (of Newsom only), 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft. She was convicted and sentenced to 53 years in prison on July 30, 2010.

In each indictment, the large number of rape counts were included to provide a range of options for prosecutors, not to reflect the number of rapes which actually occurred.

  • Eric DeWayne “E” Boyd, 34, was arrested in connection with the fatal carjacking, though not indicted by the Knox County grand jury. Boyd faced federal charges in United States district court as an accessory after the fact for helping the suspects evade the police. Later, Boyd was also accused by Thomas and Cobbins of rape and murder, and a search warrant was obtained for his DNA. The accusations by Thomas and Cobbins did not result in state charges against Boyd, but he is serving 18 years in federal prison on his conviction as an accessory to the carjacking.

Trials

 

The four suspects indicted in Knox County were originally scheduled to be tried separately, at trials scheduled between May and August 2008. However, the trial date for the subjects indicted in Knox County was moved back to 2009 in February 2008. In an apparent attempt to force the prosecution to try the case with the least forensic evidence first, the attorneys for Thomas filed a motion for a speedy trial, arguing there was no forensic link between their client and the crime scene. Thomas was granted the motion and was scheduled to go on trial on August 11. Judge Baumgartner ruled that Thomas’ phone calls made from the jailhouse to his acquaintances were admissible as evidence.

District Attorney Randy Nichols announced that the state would seek the death penalty for both Cobbins (the first to go to trial) and Coleman if convicted. Davidson was also indicted for a second robbery which was committed after the murders. The publicity against the accused led the defense to argue that a change of venue was required in order to ensure a fair trial. However, the state argued that an impartial jury could be found during voir dire, and the presiding judge subsequently denied the motion as “premature”.

Verdicts

On April 16, 2008, Eric Boyd was found guilty in Federal court of being an accessory to a fatal carjacking and for failing to report the location of a known fugitive. Boyd’s was the first case to go to trial, and he was the only suspect not charged with murder. He was sentenced to the maximum of 18 years in Federal prison. He is currently incarcerated at Beckley FCI.

On August 25, 2009, Letalvis D. Cobbins was found guilty of the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Cobbins faced the possibility of the death penalty because he was convicted of first degree felony murder in the murder of Christian. He was found guilty of facilitation of murder for Newsom but he was acquitted of Newsom’s rape. The jurors worked about 10 hours Monday and on Tuesday morning before reaching a verdict. They never asked Judge Richard Baumgartner any questions during their deliberations. On August 26, Cobbins was sentenced to life without parole.

On October 28, 2009, Lemaricus Devall Davidson was found guilty on all counts. He was found not guilty on three counts of the aggravated rape of Christopher Newsom but was found guilty of the lesser included charges of facilitation of rape. The sentencing hearing began on October 29, 2009 at 9am EST. The sentence hearing ended the next day October 30, 2009 at approx 3pm EST when a jury, after deliberating approx 3 hours, sentenced Lemaricus Davidson to death on 4 of the conviction counts.

On December 8, 2009, George Thomas was found guilty on all counts, including the ones the other defendants were acquitted of despite his case being based solely on circumstantial evidence and testimony. The sentencing hearing began December 8th, 2009 and ended on December 10th, 2009 at approx 10:45 am EST when the jury, after approx 3 hours of deliberation, returned a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on each of the 4 capital convictions.

The convictions of Boyd, Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas left Vanessa Coleman as the last defendant to face trial. Coleman’s case is complicated by the fact that, while she was granted immunity by federal authorities for testimony in the federal case on the car-jacking, the state courts have ruled that the federal grant of immunity does not extend to the state charges on murder and rape. On May 13, 2010, Coleman was acquitted of first degree murder but found guilty on lesser charges. On July 30, 2010, she was sentenced to 53 years behind bars.

Reaction and accusations of racism

 

The national news media was criticized for allegedly ignoring the story because the victims were white and the suspects black. This criticism was also fueled by erroneous early reports of dismemberment and mutilations. Most of the original reports with misinformation (reported from a federal deputy US Marshal after the suspects’ arrest in Kentucky) were later denied by the District Attorney.

The president of Criminal Justice Journalists, an association of crime, court and prison writers, editors and producers, said, “I can’t say that this one would have had any more coverage if five whites had been accused of doing these things to two blacks, absent a blatant racial motive… as bad as this crime is, the apparent absence of any interest group involvement or any other ‘angle’ might also explain the lack of coverage.” Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said that there is no indication the crimes were racially motivated and that the murders and assault “appears to have been a random violent act.” “There is absolutely no proof of a hate crime,” said John Gill, special counsel to Knox County District Atty. Randy Nichols. “We know from our investigation that the people charged in this case were friends with white people, socialized with white people, dated white people. So not only is there no evidence of any racial animus, there’s evidence to the contrary.”

Some commentators continued to disagree, claiming that such a crime would include a motive of racial hatred. Conservative political commentator Michelle Malkin repeated this accusation on her blog and on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor program. Prior to the DA’s statement, Newsom’s mother sympathized with the “hate crime” position stating, “It may have started out as a carjacking, but what it developed into was blacks hating whites.” Christian’s father (addressing those whom he believes used his daughter’s death to further their own agenda) appeared ambivalent, stating “[the crime] ain’t about you.”

The case also attracted the attention of white supremacists. On May 27, 2007, around 30 white supremacists led by Alex Linder rallied in downtown Knoxville in protest of the murders. They were met by a larger number of counter-protestors, many dressed as clowns (parodying the Ku Klux Klan).

After the protest, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts dismissed claims that the crime was underreported, citing a 2001 report that found “Blacks and Latinos are underrepresented in news media as victims of crime and significantly overrepresented as perpetrators.” Pitts added that he was “unkindly disposed toward the crackpots, incendiaries and flat-out racists who have chosen this tragedy upon which to take an obscene and ludicrous stand” and that they and any other white Americans who felt victimized by the perceived under reporting could “cry me a river.”

The house at 2316 Chipman Street was bought by a nearby business and razed in October 2008; the new owners of the lot planned to build a simple memorial.

An October 16, 2009 article in The Daily Mail stated, “Ironically, the case has now generated more publicity surrounding the furore over whether or not political correctness was behind the US media’s decision to largely ignore the story than it did for the murders themselves.” The same article quoted commentator Michelle Malkin as saying, “This case – an attractive white couple murdered by five black thugs – doesn’t fit any political agenda. It’s not a useful crime. Reverse the races and just imagine how the national media would cover the story of a young black couple murdered by five white assailants.”

 

   

 

Jessie Dotson timeline:

Nov. 21, 1994: Pleads guilty to second-degree murder of Halle Cox in bad drug deal. Gets 18-year sentence.

Aug. 27, 2007: Released on parole.

Jan. 26, 2008: Parole and sentence expire.

March 3, 2008: Dotson’s brother, three other adults and two children are found shot and stabbed at 722 Lester St. Three children are critically injured.

March 8, 2008: Jessie Dotson confesses after one of the surviving children identifies him, “Uncle Junior,” as the lone attacker.

Oct. 11, 2010: Dotson is convicted on all counts.

Oct. 12, 2010: Dotson receives six death penalties.

Nov. 8, 2010: Dotson receives an additional 120 years in prison

 

Convicted murderer Jessie Dotson receives maximum 120-year sentence</style=”font-size:>

November 9, 2010

The man already sentenced to death six times for the city’s worst mass murder case received an additional 120 years in prison Tuesday for beating and stabbing three children who survived.

Neither the relaxed, smiling Jessie Dotson nor his lawyers had anything to say in his defense as the judge and prosecutors said Dotson has no regard for human life.

“In my 40 years of being in the criminal justice system in Shelby County, I’ve seen a lot of cases and I don’t know of anything more (legally) aggravating than this,” said Criminal Court Judge James Beasley Jr. “I guess we’re used to seeing adults (as victims), but it is uncommon for us to see children get killed, to see children mangled and butchered like this.

“In my opinion, Mr. Dotson should never be allowed to walk the streets of society again. He’s given up that right.”

In imposing the maximum sentence, Beasley gave Dotson 40 years consecutive for each of three counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Last month, the jury that convicted him of the six Lester Street murders gave him death sentences on each one.

Prosecutors Ray Lepone and Reginald Henderson said the additional sentences are more than legal window dressing.

“These are nine separate cases with nine separate victims and we’re using every legal measure to make sure he never walks the streets again,” said Lepone, noting that each conviction will be reviewed on appeal. “Each victim deserves a sentencing hearing. He brutalized those children and left them to die in that house.”

Dotson, 35, who had served almost 14 years in prison for a 1994 murder, was convicted of shooting to death his brother, Cecil, 30, on March 2, 2008, at 722 Lester St. and then eliminating witnesses, including Marissa Williams, 27, Shindri Roberson, 22, Hollis Seals, 33, and Cecil’s children, Cemario, 4, and Cecil II, 2.

Jessie Dotson, the children’s uncle, then beat and stabbed Cecil “CJ” Jr., 9, Cedric, 5, and Ceniyah, 2 months. CJ, who was found with a knife protruding from his skull, and Cedric, both testified that “Uncle Jessie” was the lone attacker.

The dead and injured were left in the house for some 40 hours before they were discovered.

“The children were devastated,” said their grandmother, Ida Anderson, who now is raising the children. “This is something that has wrecked them completely. The children have been in counseling, the whole family has been in counseling. The grandchildren want to know why it happened, why he killed their parents. The children loved him (Uncle Jessie).

“All I can tell them is that God is in control and that He will take care of us.”

A special-needs fund established for the children two years ago by First Baptist Church on Broad raised $139,000 and was placed in a trust in Probate Court. Last month officials issued a new plea for continued social and financial support, setting up the Dotson Children’s Benefit Fund. Donations can be made at any BankTennessee branch.

“People have contributed to our needs, but our lives have been turned upside down,” Anderson said. “The children have undergone surgeries and have more to come. There’s still scarring.”

Jessie Dotson’s execution date is set for March 2, 2012, four years to the day after the murders, though a delay is a virtual certainty.

Automatic appeals typically continue for more than a decade.

****CREDIT By Lawrence Buser