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UPDATED: Kennon Fastrup sentenced to 45 years in prison for murder

The two parties responsible for the murder of a 39-year-old Kent woman, who was found in the trunk of her burned car near Black Diamond, have been sentenced to prison.

Kent residents, and co-defendants, Kennon Fastrup, 32, and Michelle Backstrom, 37, were sentenced Friday, with Fastrup receiving 45 1/2 years in prison and Backstrom sentenced to 12 1/2 years. A jury convicted Fastrup last month on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree arson, attempting to elude and violation of a no-contact order. Backstrom pled guilty in March to a charge of second-degree murder. According to the King County prosecutors, the pair murdered Denise Grigsby, 39, in May of 2012 after an argument.

Backstrom agreed to plead guilty to the lesser murder charge and testify against Fastrup, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Richardson. In exchange, the state agreed to drop an arson charge.

“We amended the charge on Fastrup up to Murder 1 for trial once we had the full view of what happened,” Richardson said in an email.

According to the charges, the murder occurred May 4 at Backstrom’s home on the East Hill, after an argument between Fastrup and Grigsby. Her body was found two days later, shortly after 4 a.m., when Mountain View Fire and Rescue responded to a report of a car fire in the area of Southeast 328th Street and Southeast Auburn-Black Diamond Road. The fire department found Grigsby’s Toyota Camry fully engulfed in flames, with her body, burned beyond recognition, in the trunk. Grisby was eventually identified through her dental records.

The couple was arrested May 11 in North Bend after a high-speed car pursuit. Investigators said they had been camping out in the woods near I-90 after the killing and car fire.

Following their arrest, Backstrom confessed to detectives that she had participated in the murder and arson, saying an argument among the three turned physical, moving from the kitchen to the garage. There, Backstrom claimed in the charging documents, Fastrup struck Grigsby in the head with a flashlight while Backstrom also punched. She stated that Fastrup strangled Grigsby with a braided metal cable, and when the cable became too slick with blood, Backstrom strangled Grigsby with a key lanyard, while Fastrup continued to strike the victim in the head.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Grigsby died from blunt force trauma to the head.

According to the charging documents, Fastrup denied participating in the murder, but confessed to burning the car. He claimed he did it at the request of Backstrom and did not know Grigsby was dead, or that her body was in the trunk, until they actually arrived at the scene and he opened the trunk. He said he burned the car anyway to assist Backstrom.

All three individuals were believed to be abusing methamphetamine and Fastrup and Backstrom both had lengthy criminal histories, Richardson said. Backstrom had been released from prison two years prior to this incident following a vehicular homicide conviction. Fastrup had previous convictions for attempting to elude, assault and drug and firearms violations.

“This was a brutal, harrowing murder with a hideous aftermath,” Richardson said in an email. “The convictions of these defendants will not bring back Denise Grigsby, but they delivered justice, and the community is safer as a result.”

Richardson said Grigsby’s list of charges, plus a “huge criminal history” increased the standard sentencing range he faced, and, in the state’s opinion, justified the sentence, which was at the top of the standard range. She said Backstrom had a leaner criminal history and was a longtime domestic violence victim of Fastrup.

“We believe he instigated this murder and plotted the arson,” Richardson said. “The sentences were completely appropriate given their respective criminal histories and levels of involvement, and Ms. Backstrom‚‘s agreement to testify as a State’s witness.”

 

 

 

ORIGINAL STORY

The two parties responsible for the murder of a 39-year-old Kent woman, who was found in the trunk of her burned car near Black Diamond, have been sentenced to prison.

Kent residents, and co-defendants, Kennon Fastrup, 32, and Michelle Backstrom, 37, were sentenced Friday, with Fastrup receiving 45 1/2 years in prison and Backstrom sentenced to 12 1/2 years. A jury convicted Fastrup last month on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree arson, attempting to elude and violation of a no-contact order. Backstrup pled guilty in March to a charge of second-degree murder. According to the King County Prosecutors, the pair murdered Denise Grigsby, 39, in May of 2012 after an argument.

According to the charges, the murder occurred May 4 at Backstrom's home on the East Hill, after an argument between Fastrup and Grigsby. Grigsby's body was found two days later, shortly after 4 a.m., when Mountain View Fire and Rescue responded to a report of a car fire in the area of Southeast 328th Street and Southeast Auburn-Black Diamond Road.

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