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White supremacist can act as own lawyer in federal case

PORTLAND – A white supremacist accused of a Northwest crime spree that claimed four lives has won the right to serve as his own attorney.

A federal judge in Portland agreed to let David “Joey” Pedersen represent himself after the defendant confirmed he understands the charges and that he could face the death penalty, the Oregonian reported.

“I think it is unwise to try to represent yourself,” Judge Ancer Haggerty told Pedersen at Friday’s hearing. “A trained lawyer can represent you better than you can represent yourself.”

Pedersen, 32, and Holly Ann Grigsby, 28, are awaiting trial on federal charges of kidnapping, carjacking and murder. They are accused of killing a man on the Oregon coast and another man in Northern California. Pedersen previously pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder for the slaying of his father and stepmother in Everett.

Authorities say the 2011 killing spree was part of a white supremacist scheme.

Attorney General Eric Holder has until next month to decide whether to pursue the death penalty. Pedersen and Grigsby are scheduled to be tried together in July. Grigsby has two attorneys.


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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.