EVERETT - It’s a moment many family and friends never thought would happen,:
John Reed in handcuffs, facing charges for killing Oso couple Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn.
On Monday, Reed spoke in a soft voice inside a courtroom. But he was firm when he pleaded not guilty to killing his former neighbors.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office says Reed hid out in Mexico for months before authorities in Mexico working with the US Marshals Office captured him.
“My client will be entering a plea of not guilty,” defense attorney Jon Scott said.
Despite insurmountable evidence against him, Reed denies killing 46-year-old Patenaude and 45-year-old Shunn.
Detectives say Reed was angry over a property dispute, and he ambushed the couple at their home.
Margaret Hedlund, Monique`s close friend never thought this day would come, especially after John Reed made it all the way to Mexico.
“It’s hard to describe how you feel when you are looking at the back of the person who viciously murdered two of your friends,” Hedlund said.
Hedlund wanted a good look at the accused killer’s face but she couldn`t see it in the end, she said. At the request of the court, everyone had to stand outside as bailiffs escorted Reed in and out of the courtroom.
“It's frustrating to us all have to leave so we don`t have to get to look at him other than the back of his head,” Hedlund said.
The prosecution says they want to make sure everything is done properly so nothing jeopardizes their case.
The state will use Reed`s brother Tony against him. Tony admitted to helping his brother bury the victims’ bodies in the woods in Oso. Tony ran off with John but turned himself in telling detectives where the bodies were.
“I am grateful he gave the information but how does that boil down to 12 to 14 months I don`t understand,” Hedlund said.
Hundreds of family and friends angry with Tony's penalty filed a petition hoping for a longer prison sentence calling Tony’s sentence range unfair.
“We are not going to charge someone who didn't commit murder,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Craig Matheson said.
Detectives say Tony’s alibi proves he did not commit the murders.
The prosecution`s focus is fully on John Reed. About the same time Mexican authorities arrested John, the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office upgrade the charges from first degree murder to aggravated first degree allowing them to seek the death penalty.
On Monday, Reed's attorney issued a statement against the prosecution potentially seeking the death penalty.
"Death should not be the choice," Reed's attorney said. "Vegence does not justify a choice to kill: an eye for an eye simply leaves the world blind."
If those upgraded charges had come a day or before after John`s arrest the prosecution says it could have complicated the extradition process.
The defense is calling the timing suspicious. The prosecution says it’s luck.
“Dumb luck, it was very serendipitous we knew it was something we knew we wanted to do,” Matheson said.
Hedlund is hoping the prosecution will decide to seek the death penalty in exchange for Monique and Patrick who she loved as family.
“They were a great great couple you would have loved them,” Hedlund said.
Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe will have until Nov. 10 to decide whether or not they will seek the death penalty.
John Reed’s trial is set for April 7 of next year. His brother Tony will appear for his sentencing hearing on August 29th for rendering criminal assistance.