By SCOTT GRAVES
Gregory Arthur Hoenshell, 21, has been charged with murdering his grandparents and other crimes related to the April 9 double homicide in Brookings, Curry County District Attorney Charlie Steak said Friday.
The Curry County grand jury handed down an indictment Thursday charging Hoenshell with two counts of aggravated murder, three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, three counts of first-degree theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and third-degree theft, Steak said.
All but the last charge are felonies, he said.
Obviously, these are serious charges with the most severest of penalties, Steak said.
Aggravated murder is punishable by death, life imprisonment without parole, or life imprisonment with a 30-year minimum sentence, he said.
A person, he said, can be charged with aggravated murder under several sets of circumstances, including paying someone to kill the victim, killing a victim while torturing them, killing a victim under 14 years of age, or killing a judge, juror or law enforcement officer if the murder was related to the performance of their duties.
Steak said the charges of aggravated murder against Hoenshell are based on the fact that there were two murder victims in the course of the same criminal episode.
The bodies of Dorothy and Edward Hoenshell were discovered by a real estate agent who had entered their home at 717 Fourth St. to show it to a potential buyer.
The couples car was found in Crescent City by the California Highway Patrol the same day. Gregory Hoenshell was arrested the following day in Crescent City on unrelated charges.
Hoenshell was subsequently sentenced in Del Norte County Superior Court to 16 months in prison for possessing a forged check and failure to appear.
He is currently serving time in Californias San Quentin State Prison, Steak said.
In May, authorities recovered a .22 rifle in Crescent City they believe Hoenshell used to kill his grandparents.
The discovery of the weapon, which was sent to the Oregon State Police crime lab, led authorities to consider Hoenshell a prime suspect in the murders.
Steak said Hoenshell has about six months left to serve at San Quentin. At that time, he will likely be extradited to Curry County to face the new charges, he said.
Everyone involved in the case has worked very hard, especially the Brookings Police Department, Steak said.
Brookings Police Lt. John Bishop will continue the investigation, he said.