King County prosecutors have charged a Lynnwood man with murder, accusing him of shooting an acquaintance and leaving him dead on a logging road near Skykomish last month.
Jeremy Tod Staeheli, 32, was arrested in California on Sunday and charged Monday with second-degree murder with a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm in violation of a court-issued protection order, according to charging documents. Bail was set at $2 million.
According to prosecutors, Staeheli shot 34-year-old Brandt Stewart in the head on the logging road and left him there. King County sheriff’s deputies who arrested Staeheli said he told them the shooting was in self-defense, as he claimed Stewart was holding a knife.
A hiker found Stewart’s body in the snow on the side of a National Forest Service road near Skykomish the morning of Dec. 23.
Deputies said Stewart had his hands in his pockets, one of which contained a pocket knife.
Stewart’s mother told deputies he had struggled with drug addiction for most of his adult life and had been staying in a shed at a Snohomish church. He had a young daughter, his family has shared on social media.
Someone who knew the victim told detectives he saw Stewart at a nearby minimart the day before his body was found, getting into a Ford Mustang driven by Staeheli, according to charges. Detectives identified the car through surveillance footage.
On Saturday, detectives saw a post on Staeheli’s Facebook account stating that he was in California. They drove to Red Bluff, California, and arrested him Sunday as he walked out of a hotel. Detectives said they found a handgun in his waistband, which Staeheli said he used to shoot Stewart, according to charges.
According to detectives, Staeheli said he knew Stewart from school and occasionally gave him food and smoked meth with him. He said they had been driving around and pulled over on the forest road to urinate. According to detectives, Staeheli said he was outside the car and turned around to see Stewart holding a knife, then shot Stewart in the forehead.
Staeheli remained in Tehama County Jail in California on Thursday, according to jail records, where he awaits extradition to Washington. His next court date is Jan. 13.