May preliminary hearing set in Ladwig murder case

Concord resident Terrie Ladwig was killed in 1994.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (April 12, 2023) — A May 16 preliminary hearing for James William Grimsley is now on the calendar in the Terrie Ladwig murder trial, and a Fall trial is possible in the case.

Grimsley, 55, who entered a not guilty plea March 20 after finally a lengthy extradition process from Utah that began in late January, continues to be held at Martinez Detention Facility on a $1 million bond.

Gilbert Rivera with the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office has been appointed to represent Grimsley, a truck driver from Utah who was believed to be working in Concord at the time of 1994 murder.

This cold case took a dramatic turn last summer when a combination of key factors, including DNA, led Concord Police Department investigators to start narrowing their focus on Grimsley as a person of interest.

“We had the physical, forensic, and interviews, and ultimately we were able identify this person, Mr. Grimsley, as the person responsible,” said Lt. Sean Donnelly.

He declined to go into detail about the forensic evidence except to say, “all the evidence we found was in Terrie’s apartment.”

Deputy District Attorney Satish Jallepalli declined to go into specifics regarding evidence and motive in the case, citing concerns like tainting the potential jury pool that may be called to hear the case. But he acknowledged “issues underlying the attack may come up at the hearing.”

“Stay tuned,” he said.

After the May preliminary hearing, the wheels of justice will turn – albeit slowly – as the presiding judge may issue a holding order to bind over Grimsley for trial, which means a re-arraignment in the case. Currently there are no enhancements attached to the current lone charge of murder against Grimsley.

Just how quickly a trial date gets set will be predicated on the number of defense motions that emerge from the preliminary hearing. A transcript may be requested by the defense, and any defense issues coming from the transcript will need to be addressed in the coming months.

“There could be a trial date set potentially for as early as the Fall,” said Jallepalli. Rivera declined to comment at this stage of the proceedings.


David Scholz
David Scholz

David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.