White supremacist to be own lawyer in killing case

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - 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 newspaper.

"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, Wash.

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 court-appointed attorneys.

It's unclear why Pedersen wants to represent himself. His motion requesting self-representation was filed under seal.

Haggerty said Pedersen's attorneys, Renee Manes and Richard Wolf, are excellent and have worked hard on the case. If you represent yourself, Haggerty told Pedersen, you will have limited access to court filings, legal materials and the ability to control witnesses.

Pedersen, who has no formal legal training, said he understood the ramifications. He agreed to keep Manes and Wolf as standby counsel, meaning they won't work the case but will be in the courtroom if Pedersen has a question.