A 16-year-old Mountlake Terrace boy pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree manslaughter Friday in connection with the shooting death of a 17-year-old Edmonds girl.
The suspect, who was arraigned in Snohomish County Superior Court, is being charged as an adult in the Nov. 30 death of 17-year-old Gala Zuehlke. The victim, an Edmonds e-Learning Academy student, formerly attended Edmonds-Woodway High School.
According to police reports filed with the court, which we reported on here, the suspect — who last attended Mountlake Terrace High School — shot the victim while he was playing with a revolver in a unit of Edmonds’ Horizon Park Apartments on Friday, Nov. 30.
A 15-year-old female friend who was also present during the incident initially told police that she found the victim’s body in the apartment. She subsequently changed her story, admitting to police that she was in the apartment and witnessed the shooting. She told police that the suspect was pointing the revolver around the room and pulling the trigger on what she says he believed were empty chambers. When he pointed the gun at Zuehlke, it went off, killing her with a single gunshot wound to the head.
After further interviews with the witness and acquaintances of the suspect and analyzing other evidence, police tracked him down to a house on Maltby Road in Bothell, where he was apprehended without incident on Monday, Dec. 3.
The suspect appeared the next day in Juvenile Court, where Judge George Appel found probable cause for first-degree manslaughter. In addition, Appel ruled that the suspect constitutes “a threat to community safety,” but would be released on $100,000 bail on condition that he remain under house arrest or in the company of his parents. Due to the nature of the crime and the age of the teen suspect, Appel also ruled that the case would be transferred to Snohomish County Superior Court, where the suspect would be charged as an adult.
Prosecutors filed documents on Dec. 6, formally charging the Mountlake Terrace teen with first-degree manslaughter, to which he pleaded not guilty at his Friday afternoon arraignment. He remains in the Snohomish County jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.
Trial call is set for Jan. 25, 2019.
— By Larry Vogel