A 46-year-old Auburn man with a lengthy history of domestic-violence convictions is accused of fatally shooting his estranged girlfriend after she refused to reconcile with him. He had recently been released from jail after an earlier domestic-violence incident involving her.
Rashied Mitchell, 46, was released from jail without having to post bail on Sept. 12 after he was arrested for allegedly threatening his girlfriend in front of their two young children.
On Saturday — 12 days later — police say Mitchell shot his girlfriend, Tabitha Apling, 33, who died on the floor of a walk-in closet at his mother’s Federal Way apartment. According to charges filed earlier this week, Mitchell shot Apling after learning his mother had called 911.
Mitchell then shot himself in the head, police say.
Mitchell, who is being treated at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, has been charged with first-degree murder, felony violation of a no-contact order and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
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“There’s no way in the world to call it anything but a tragedy that will be felt for a long time. Those children are going to suffer,” Auburn City Attorney Dan Heid said of the couple’s sons, ages 5 and 6 months.
Heid’s office had asked an Auburn District Court judge to set Mitchell’s bail at $50,000 after his Sept. 10 arrest in Auburn in the earlier domestic-violence incident involving Apling. But the judge was likely moved by Mitchell’s mother’s statement that she is disabled and needed her son to help care for her, said Heid.
“I’d say the judges are sometimes willing to give a defendant an accommodation, even if it’s not deserved,” Heid said. “We felt he was a serious enough threat … (that) we wanted him held for the protection of the victims.”
Of the high bail request, Heid said: “We don’t ask for it for the fun of it. If we have a bad history, we ask for it.”
According to court records, Mitchell has a lengthy history of domestic-violence convictions that date to the early 1990s and involve several other women. At least three other women had sought protection orders against Mitchell, whose criminal record includes roughly 40 prior domestic-violence convictions, both misdemeanors and felonies.
In June 2015, Apling sought and was granted a temporary domestic-violence protection order against Mitchell after she alleged he had “put hands on me for numerous things,” forced sex on her and threatened to bash her head in with a vase, say records filed in King County Superior Court.
But a few days later she asked a judge to rescind the order.
“I am willing to give him a second chance in hopes that therapy, treatment and couples counseling will help,” Apling wrote on June 16, 2015, when she asked that the protection order be terminated.
The couple had a volatile relationship, according to court records, which show Apling had three misdemeanor domestic-violence assault convictions involving Mitchell.
In the Auburn incident, a woman called 911 just after 11 p.m. Sept. 10 to report a man yelling at another woman in a car in the drive-through line of a fast-food restaurant, with the caller stating she wasn’t sure “if the incident was physical,” say the charges. The caller then told a dispatcher that a woman and two young children had gotten out of the vehicle and the male driver had taken off.
Apling, who was crying and scared, told officers Mitchell had threatened to “knock her out” and, given his history of violence against her, she believed he was capable of doing her harm, say the charges filed in King County District Court.
Police arrested Mitchell at the couple’s apartment, where two officers struggled to get him into handcuffs, the charges say.
Mitchell was released Sept. 12 on personal recognizance, though he was ordered to stay away from Apling and the children, court records show. He was charged with misdemeanor harassment domestic violence, exposing minor children to domestic violence and resisting arrest in connection with the incident two days earlier, court records show.
The same day Mitchell was released from jail, Apling wrote the judge, asking him to modify the no-contact order so Mitchell — whom she described as a great father — would be allowed to see their kids, court records show.
It appears family finances and the need for child care were uppermost in Apling’s mind: “Rashied and his mother are their care takers when I work. Without them, I also would not have child care and would not be able to support our children,” she wrote.
A hearing on her motion to modify the protection order was set for Oct. 27, the records show.
Though the protection order was still in place on Sept. 24, the day of her death, Apling had gone to Mitchell’s mother’s Federal Way apartment to pick up her children after getting off work, charging papers say. Mitchell had moved out of the couple’s Auburn apartment and was living with his mother.
According to the charges, Mitchell accused her of lying about the earlier incident in Auburn and begged her to take him back — as she had last year, court records show.
Mitchell and Apling argued about their relationship, and their 5-year-old ran screaming into his grandmother’s room “in an obvious state of panic” because Mitchell was waving around a handgun and accusing Apling of “trying to play [him] for a fool,” say the charges.
Charging papers say Mitchell threatened to shoot Apling and himself if anyone called 911 — and then carried through on his threat after learning his mother had summoned police.