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Gwinnett DA ‘likely’ to seek death in double homicide if plea rejected

If a 19-year-old accused of killing his girlfriend’s grandparents doesn’t take a plea deal, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office is “more than likely” to seek the death penalty, said District Attorney Danny Porter.

Johnny Hiro Rider and 17-year-old Cassandra Bjorge are both charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, armed robbery and theft in connection with the death of Bjorge’s grandparents, an attack on Rider’s sister and the theft of Hiro’s mother’s car. 

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The DA’s office cannot seek the death penalty against Bjorge because she is under 18. Porter told Channel 2 Action News that he believes both Bjorge and Rider are equally culpable in the killings.

Rider and Bjorge were arrested in April after Randall Bjorge and Wendy Bjorge were found dead in their Lawrenceville home. The couple was bound with duct tape and beaten with tire irons in Randall Bjorge’s bedroom before their throats were slit, according to Gwinnett County police. 

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Rider and Bjorge caulked the bedroom door shut to hide the stench of the grandparents’ decaying bodies, Det. Dave Brucz said in a May hearing. Rider and Bjorge spent a week smoking marijuana and having parties with their friends as the bodies decomposed upstairs, Brucz said. 

Defense attorneys are reviewing evidence in the case and considering plea offers that have been extended by the District Attorney’s office.

“We are hopeful that the state will reconsider its intention to seek the death penalty,” said LeAnne Chancey, Rider’s attorney, to Channel 2.

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The teenagers tried to cover up the scent of the bodies but had friends over a few days later, according to police.

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