Central District News reports that 20-year-old Tristan Appleberry has plead guilty to the murder of Aaron Sullivan (pictured at right), the biracial teen gunned down last summer whose murder exposed some of the racial fault lines in tony Leschi. As Nina Shapiro reported in last October's "Black, White, and Bled All Over," the immediate assumption of cops responding to the scene was that Sullivan had been murdered because he was in a gang.
Eyewitnesses Mariah Gill-Erhart and Grayson "Gray" Wessel, Sullivan's girlfriend and friend respectively, said they saw Appleberry walk out of his house armed with an assault rifle and fire into the Chevy Caprice in which Sullivan was sitting.
Appleberry could spend up to two decades in prison for Sullivan's murder.
What set are you from? What set is Aaron from? Those were some of the first questions out of their mouths, Gill-Erhart recalls. "I kept having to repeat myself," she says. "We weren't in a gang. We didn't have any weapons." After being shot at, trying to hold her dying boyfriend's head together, and seeing "everything go so slow and so fast at the same time," she desperately needed a cigarette. When she started heading to a neighbor's house to borrow a lighter, a detective barked, "Get back in the car. I'm not done with you," she says. "They were aggressive. Too aggressive in that situation."
"We weren't treated at all like witnesses or friends of the deceased," says Wessel. "It was more of an interrogation."
Sullivan's family and friends also criticized the media reaction to his murder and what they deemed as a lack of vigor from the King County Prosecutor's Office in the case against Appleberry.
According to Central District News, the prosecutor's office will be asking for a sentence of 20 years for Appleberry when he has his hearing in August. That would be right in the middle of the road for the range (15-24 years) for second-degree murder.