Man accused of killing Oso couple, burying their remains won't face death penalty if convicted

EVERETT, Wash. — A man charged with killing a couple and burying their remains near Oso will not face the death penalty if convicted, Snohomish County prosecutor Mark Roe announced Tuesday.

John Reed is charged with murder in the deaths of 46-year-old Monique Patenaude and 45-year-old Patrick Shunn, who lived in the Oso area. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to go to trial in September.

"I am not seeking the death penalty for this defendant," Roe announced in a news release Tuesday. "Because his case remains set for trial, I won’t discuss specific reasons for my decision."

Roe said he considers the fact and elements of each crime, the level of proof he can present, along with the history of the defendant and whatever "mitigating information the defense provides me. In this case, I received such a mitigation package from the defense." He said he also has to "make my own educated judgment about the likelihood a jury of 12 people would issue a unanimous death verdict."

"Last week I was also able to speak with the surviving relatives of Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude. Some would like me to seek death, others prefer I not, and all expressed that they would understand and support whatever decision I made, and I am extremely grateful for that," Roe said.

Patenaude and Shunn were shot April 11 near Oso, a small community northeast of Seattle.

Reed, 54, pleaded not guilty in August to two counts of aggravated murder and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Prosecutors say the couple was slain over a property feud.

John Reed’s brother, Tony Reed, has pleaded guilty to two counts of felony rendering criminal assistance. Tony Reed helped his brother bury the bodies and hide the couple's vehicles under some brush, authorities said.

The two brothers fled to Mexico after the murder.  Tony Reed surrendered to authorities in May near the U.S.-Mexico border.

John Reed was arrested by U.S. authorities in southern Arizona on July 22, after he was found and expelled by Mexico.