SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A Kanab man charged with first-degree murder in a November 2022 shooting death is back on the street despite the Salt Lake County District Attorney asking a judge to deny him bond. And those who loved the victim are also unhappy with that decision.
Dustin James Pedersen, 37, was charged with first-degree felony murder in the death of Nichole Olsen, 29, after a shooting occurred on Nov. 21, 2022, in the parking lot of a nightclub. According to police documents, Pedersen’s father convinced the suspect to surrender 24 hours later. Pedersen told police he fired the gun to scare the people who were fighting.
Salt Lake City District Attorney Sim Gill told ABC4 that he asked the judge that bond be denied to Pedersen, especially for a first-degree murder charge, though the judge felt differently.
“Nobody should be able to bail out given this kind of allegation,” said Gill.
The defense fought it, Gill said, sharing dozens of letters written by loved ones about Pedersen’s character. Gill said it’s a rarity for someone facing a murder charge to be released on bail, but in the end, it’s up to the judge.
“Unfortunately, justice is always an imperfect justice, because perfect justice would be that it never happened to them and they didn’t lose a loved one,” said Gill.
Olsen’s boyfriend, Matt Hightower, told ABC4 that allowing Pedersen to go free is baffling, dozens of letters or not.
“What’s the point in writing all of this when you know the person that you’re talking about killed an innocent woman?” said Hightower. He added that the only thing more baffling than letting Pedersen out on $100,000 bail is how something so small escalated into him losing the love of his life.
Looking at a video of Nicole Olsen dancing the night she was killed, Hightower said that’s how he wants to remember her.
“I love that you can tell how free she felt,” Hightower said. “How happy she was. She was just a girl who wanted to go dancing and be herself with her friends.”
Instead, he’s haunted by a different image.
“I see a nurse on top of her doing CPR as they take her down the hallway… It’s the last time I saw her,” said Hightower.
It started at a nightclub. Hightower said Pedersen and another man approached Owens and her friends.
“Hey man, they’re, they’re spoken for. Like they’re here with their guys right now,” Hightower says he told Pedersen and the other man.
Police said Pedersen and his friend were kicked out of the club over an argument, but later that night, the groups ran into each other again.
“The driver jumps out and he’s like, ‘Oh, look who it is!’” said Hightower.
A fight started and police said Pedersen fired one round into Owens’ chest. Court documents state he then took off in his BMW and Owens died at the hospital.
Hightower said the video of his girlfriend shows him the woman he fell in love with and reminds him of what he’s fighting for.
“[Pedersen]’s there for a reason,” said Hightower. “We lost somebody for no reason. So when do we get to see the justice that we deserve for Nicole?”