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Court Docs Give More Details on Leschi Murder

Today we received documents from the King County Prosecutor’s Office that shed new light on the shooting that took the life of Aaron Sullivan in Leschi last week.

The suspect, Tristan N. Appleberry, is charged with 2nd degree homicide. First degree homicide requires proof of premeditation, which was apparently not a factor in this crime. That charge also precludes the death penalty from being an option for punishment.

We had previously heard that the shooting was due to a minor argument about a girl. But it now appears that it was even more minor than that: neither the victim nor the suspect were the primary parties to that disagreement.

Police spoke to multiple witnesses to the event, including the two friends of the victim who were in the car with him at the time of the shooting. They say that the root of the argument was between two men “K”, a friend of the victim, and “M”, a friend of the suspect, who had an ongoing dispute over a girl. The victim and his friends were hanging out at the dock next to Blue Water Bistro in Leschi earlier on the day of the shooting when Appleberry and M arrived. K was called and notified of M’s appearance there, but M and Appleberry left the scene once K arrived. 

A group of the victim’s friends later drove to Appleberry’s house and parked a few houses to the south. Sometime later, an occupant of the victim’s car saw Appleberry approaching with an assault rifle, described as an AK-47. At first they thought it was a fake, but then heard him rack a bullet into the chamber. They were then momentarily distracted when an unidentified black male ran past the victim’s vehicle and pounded on the passenger side window, and as the victim began to drive away, a single shot was fired through the back window of the vehicle, striking Aaron Sullivan in the back of the head. 

Both the other two occupants of the victim’s vehicle and a neighbor who heard the shot reported seeing Appleberry walk back towards his house, holding an assault rifle.

One of the witnesses also alleges to have seen Appleberry’s mother on the deck of their home, watching as the entire incident unfolded. She exited the house as police arrived and reportedly told police that her son was out with his girlfriend and not at home. Police statements have previously characterized her as uncooperative, and a contributing factor to the lengthy stand-off around the home that ended up with only an empty house and no sign of the suspect.

Crime-scene investigators found a single 7.62 caliber shell casing in the street behind where the victim’s vehicle was parked. They also recovered a fully loaded SKS 7.62 caliber rifle in Appleberry’s home matching the witness descriptions of the weapon used in the shooting.

Appleberry was apprehended due to a call from his girlfriend’s mother, who notified police when he showed up outside their West Seattle home. 

That girlfriend was also interviewed by detectives, telling them that Appleberry had told her that the gun had “misfired” and that he did not intend to shoot the victim.

Tristan Appleberry is listed on the Seattle Times as once being a member of the football team at Nathan Hale.

0 thoughts on “Court Docs Give More Details on Leschi Murder

  1. I hate to sound like an old person (I’m 44) but whatever happened to good old-fashioned fist fights in situations like this?

    Full disclosure: I’m a man, which means I was once a teenage boy, and I remember how testosterone and girls can make you crazy. But in “my day”, there was mostly trash talk and some shoving. When things got really serious, there was a fight. The fights never lasted that long, and only rarely resulted in any lasting damage, and nothing ever even approaching death – and a lot of times you ended up being good friends with the guy you fought.

    And I grew up in a semi-rural area where firearms were common: Every other car in the student lot had a gun rack. But you you never, ever, ever, even THOUGHT about using a gun in an altercation, probably because we understood guns, and the importance of gun safety, and the specific role they played in our lives (hunting and defense – not crazy schoolyard crap)

    Lastly, if I was ever STUPID and CRAZY enough to think about confronting a fellow teenager with a firearm in front of my parent’s house, my mom and dad would have forcibly restrained me. I would do the same with my kids. It’s not my place to judge, but I just can’t imagine letting that happen.

    What a sad, sad, situation: One kid dead and another ruined, and others scarred for life.

  2. YOu probably did not own an AK-47 assault rifle in your day. I know that I didn’t. And why are we so afraid of gun control in this country???

  3. No, all we had were hunting rifles. But there’s something more than just gun control (which I am not opposed to) at play here.

    Without getting too hippy-dippy, I think it has something to do with closeness to life: When you have a gun because you are hunting for food, you know you are killing something. For that matter, when you slaughter a pig or a chicken or a cow, you have to learn to process what you are doing. That’s a lot more than just playing gangster and having things go terribly wrong.

    Even where I grew up, where it still is fairly rural, most of the actual farming functions have been turned over to corporations. But you still have the people who think they are “country” but are disconnected – other than their address – to what rural living really meant a generation ago. They may live in the farmhouse, but the farming belongs to ConAgra. Thus, other than a few fall excursions, they have no appreciation for hunting, or harvesting, or anything.

    In the big picture, that translates to kids feeling like it’s OK to kill each other over some silly spat about a girl.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb. And remarkably sad.

  4. Witnesses heard the shooter “rack a bullet into the chamber”. How on earth is that NOT premeditation? You do that when you are getting ready to fire. It should be up to the jury to decide if that’s premeditation.

    Thanks to the prosecutor’s leniency, this killing machine could cop a plea and be out on the street in a dozen years or so. That’s sick.

  5. great example of why nobody needs to have access to this high of a caliber for self-defense. these guns and calibers need to be banned. at the very least, these stupid NRA folks needs to come down on these stupid adults responsible for such careless, including the mother and tristan. If they will not come down on them, then they have nothing to say about banning these stupid weapons. I am all for self-defense, and a 9 MM is more than enough firepower for this purpose.

    All you stupid rednecks out there move to Virginia if you want your son to carry a assault rifle around. Otherwise, in Washington you better keep them away from me and my family. Anyone walking around in public with a Ak-47 like that deserves to get openly shot by anyone carrying a self-defense caliber for self-defense purposes. This fool tristan could have hurt many more people, intentionally or by accident.

  6. wow, hard to believe the Mom cant be charged with something – letting her kid have an AK-47 in the house should be criminal. obstructing a police investigation, aiding and abetting, something.

    as for the stupid redneck comment (Joseph), i somehow doubt these folks were ‘rednecks’ – there are other impolite words to call the folks involved here, based on race, but redneck probably not in that list.

    it doesnt sound like there’s a father in this picture either.

  7. I am mourning the loss of 2 kids who I don’t really know, although I know Aaron’s family. So many victims here…

    The alleged (yes, he is still alleged, although it looks pretty open & closed) shooter, DOES have a dad, who also lives (lived?) at the home.

    Although the fact that he had a gun in the house – possibly delivered earlier that evening?- designed for only one thing – & he went back in for the gun- my guess is that the prosecutors felt that second degree murder would convict easily, but the juries have a hard time convicting first degree on a young kid with no real record.

    I’ve heard from friends who have “kids” this age & many of their friends were texting Tristan & his girlfriend that night. Many knew that he wasn’t at the house, but instead cruising around West Seattle–doing God knows what?–thank God that the girlfriend’s mother called to let the police know where he was.

    I hope the prosecutors check the cell phone records. The individuals who knew his whereabouts, but didn’t report them can pay to clean up the home, instead of the tax payers. Perhaps it’s time that these “grownups-who can handle it” find out what “it” is.

    This is just a sad situation, all around. I pray for both families.

  8. And I’m not that old. But even a few years ago (less than 10) when I had more testosterone and time to waste than brains, I didn’t even have access to stuff like cars, much less weapons. Yeah I had shoving matches and conflicts with people, but seriously. This stuff doesn’t just happen.

    The kids might have turned out ‘good’, but in an environment where the parents don’t know that their kid is finding trouble, don’t know that there’s a MILITARY WEAPON in the house, and can’t keep their kid from doing something dangerous (or being in the wrong place at the wrong time) shows cluelessness and disinterest, at best.

    I don’t know the families or the kids involved. But damn straight I am blaming them. You heard it. No reasonable parent lets something like this go down.

    We need to bring up the level of education.

  9. I agree with those who are asking for more restrictions on weapons and ammunition in this country.
    I have known the Appleberry/Nevins family for 10 years.The mother has done a great deal to steer her son into appropriate pursuits, considering his focus/impulse issues , which we have talked about a great deal as my daughter has had some of the same challenges.

    Our kids attended different high schools, and we have lost touch over the last few years, but I can say that the upbringing of their kids, was very solid and supportive.

    I don’t know the circumstances other than what I read in the paper, but both of the families involved are in my thoughts and prayers

  10. I was born and raised in the Central district, and I feel that this problem transcends racial lines. It’s kids from types of racial backgrounds using the N-word trying to be tough guy or girl.Just jump on that 7,48,42,3,4,and soon to be that Light-Rail, to get a taste of what your kids are up to. I use to run the streets and sell drugs, and I must say, these kids got me looking over my shoulder all the time now. Drugs and guns are way more easy to get a hold of than you think. I blame the parents who don’t kick the S*** out of they’re children when they disobey and disrespect them, then unleash them on everyone else in society to deal with. You gets no Jorden’s,if you got’s no grades is my motto.

  11. To add to that last comment… We are in a time where WE have a disconnection to OUR youth. All of US as individuals who have opinions…(stop and think about this) need to engage OUR children in OUR communities. What happened to all of the teachers and leaders? We are responsible for OUR future generations regardless of race, culture, class, opportunity and the community they live in. We have police with success models for burglary and car theft that police OUR schools and use that same model for OUR children? Why? (p.s. it cost less to educate a youth than to incarcerate them… schools closing , new prisons being built, its no mystery!)Because WE are scared to engage them… COMMUNICATION… is the key. These kids are not refugees, savages, criminals… they are OUR future. That last cat was saying he was looking over his shoulder? Why? These are the same kids we watch grow up and then forget about at certain ages that get wrapped up in this type of thoughts… behaviors… and actions. Then when they act out we are scared? Why? Because WE as members of OUR communities have dropped the ball… What ever happened to it takes a village to raise a child? Now soon as OUR children act out we say they have behavior problems… give them pills… kick them out of school or label them as special ed… so on and etc, but the main thing WE need to do is embrace them… engage them… LOOK, LISTEN… SPEAK to them!!! WE all know respect gets US further than war and violence so LETS call this war on OUR youth off and instead rally to save them. Next time you get on those routes you named engage youth… show some respect, extend a hand. Shit you just may find out they been looking for just that. To end this the only thing I will say is Mentorship… engage and you never know what will develop. Intervention… it works when we miss the prevention.

  12. are you really so completely ignorant so as to call a 19 year old boy with no criminal record a killing machine, think before you speak, or else not speak at all!

  13. you know without knowing any of the people in this case you should not even be able to make a comment like that. Really think about something before you say it. Tristan had no prior record and was a graduate that got wrapped up in a friends problem. It is sad that it had to end this way but everyone is dealing with the consequences of their actions. I am very sad for Aarons family and all the loved ones involved in this incident. Dealing with a situation like this is hard enough for everyone, your mindless banter just makes things harder on everyone and adds to the hostility.

  14. That’s not what happened, either this news distributor is making up stories, or they are garnering false information