#babysister | #nanny | Suspect in killing of beloved Seattle community leader held without bail

A judge found probable cause to hold Ashton Christopher Leffall without bail for murder in the first degree and multiple other pending charges.

SEATTLE — The suspect in the killing of a Seattle community leader was ordered to be held without bail at his first court appearance on Friday on probable cause for first-degree murder among multiple other pending charges. 

The judge sided with the King County Prosecutor that the suspect, identified as Ashton Christopher Leffall, is a danger to the community. The judge also found probable cause to hold Leffall for two counts of first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm.

It was an emotional day in the courtroom, as family gathered to demand justice for D’Vonne Pickett Jr.

“My baby was my everything,” said Pickett Jr’s mother, Nicky Chappell. “My first-born child, my only son, he was amazing, he was — amazing son, amazing brother, amazing father, husband, uncle, a neighborhood hero, a business owner. I’m so proud of my baby.”

His sister says they plan to carry on Pickett Jr.’s legacy, which includes running Pickett Jr.’s business, The Postman. 

“There’s no way you can walk through the Central District and not know- D’Vonne Pickett Jr; he had a name,” Pickett Jr’s baby sister Da’Ajeray Morris said. “Everyone respected my brother. There’s nowhere you could go and it’s not like- oh you’re Mr. Postman’s sister. I am!”

Morris and Chappell said along with making sure everyone remembers Pickett Jr. for the good he did — and continuing that service — they want to see swift justice in the case. 

“He stole my baby,” Chappell said. “He took him. I used to have that boy at my house. I fed him. He called me mom. He took him from us. I’ll never get to see my baby again.”

The King County Prosecutor’s Office anticipates getting the necessary documents to officially charge Leffall with those crimes on Monday, at which time they “will take immediate action,” a spokesperson said. 

Pickett Jr. owned The Postman with his wife in Seattle’s Central District and also worked as a mentor and a coach for young people. His friends and family referred to Pickett Jr. as a pillar of the community. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and Gov. Jay Inslee both issued statements mourning his loss.

“Comfort has been coming from the love that is- the candlelight vigil,” Chappell said. “There was so many people out there. It was very overwhelming but it was comforting too.” 

Pickett Jr. was shot and killed on the 1100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Wednesday evening. That night, multiple witnesses called 911 to report that shots had been fired and a suspect was seen fleeing the area. 

When officers arrived on the scene, they found Pickett Jr. lying on the sidewalk with multiple gunshot wounds, according to court documents. Officers provided aid until Seattle Fire Department medics took Pickett Jr. to Harborview Medical Center where he died from his injuries.

Tributes poured out for him as soon as news spread, and a vigil was held that attracted a block full of people.

“There was never a dull moment with my brother, my brother was a centerpiece to a table,” Morris said. “He brought all the energy, positive energy, light to the show. Everything I know, everything I push for is because of my brother.”

Officers spoke to several witnesses who saw the suspect fleeing northbound on MLK Jr. Way and described him as about 5’11 with a heavy build, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and dark shorts. 

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Police also spoke to Pickett Jr.’s wife, Keanna R. Pickett, who said she and her husband had driven to their shipping and mail business on the 1100 block of MLK Jr. Way. After they pulled up, D’Vonne Pickett Jr. had gotten out and walked toward the front door when she heard multiple gunshots coming from behind her, according to court documents.

Keanna Pickett said she saw a man matching the other witnesses’ descriptions standing behind bushes shooting at her husband. She then ran from the car to help D’Vonne Picket Jr. while calling 911, according to court documents.

When asked if she knew anyone who would want to hurt her husband, Keanna Pickett said Leffall has repeatedly threatened her husband and his family members, including her. She also referred to a report D’Vonne Pickett Jr. had filed over previous harassment from Leffall. 

The previous report, filed on Sept. 9, stated Leffall has been harassing D’Vonne Pickett Jr. and his family online and via text for the past two years, according to court documents. He previously told officers Leffall, who lives in Hawaii, showed up at his business and was asking about him. An employee told Leffall to leave, court documents say. 

Officers learned Leffall was also a suspect in multiple other shooting investigations between Oct. 17 and Oct. 18. Surveillance footage from the scene of the shooting, and from other shooting incidents SPD is currently investigating show that the suspect’s “clothing, stature, build, personal appearance and vehicle are consistent among the investigations,” according to court documents. 

Leffall was arrested on Oct. 20 at around 12:51 p.m. after police served a search warrant at a residence on the 10000 block of Rainier Avenue South. When he was arrested, Leffall appeared to be wearing the same clothing he was seen wearing on surveillance video from the shooting scene and the other incidents. 

Leffall identified as a suspect in robbery, assault investigations

Leffall was involved in multiple other shootings in the days leading up to the murder, according to court documents. The detective investigating the cases recommended Leffall not be released, identifying Leffall as a suspect “that has been shooting his handgun indiscriminately at citizens.”

Those other crimes include a shooting on Oct. 17 around 11:57 a.m. That morning multiple 911 callers reported a man was robbed and shot at an African imports specialty store on the 4000 block of Rainier Avenue South. When police arrived, they found the store’s owner on the sidewalk outside the building with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition, according to court documents. 

Surveillance footage showed a heavy-set, Black male wearing a blue zip-up hoodie, a green or gray shirt, tight black shorts and black shoes enter the store and browse the merchandise. The man then left the store but returned five minutes later wearing a mask and carrying a concealed firearm in a shopping bag, according to court documents. 

When he got to the counter, the suspect pointed his gun at the victim and demanded his debit card and PIN number, which the victim provided. The suspect then shot the victim in the chest and fled the store on foot. 

Security video from a Walgreens across the street from the shooting scene caught the suspect getting into a car, a 1996-1998 tan or silver Acura TL with unique chrome wheels, before traveling toward Rainier Avenue South and disappearing from view. 

The victim’s wife told police that the victim’s debit card had declined transactions at a Bank of America ATM at 4701 University Way NE. Security footage from the ATM shows a Black man matching the description of the suspect at the robbery attempting to withdraw funds. 

Later that evening, a 911 call came in from a man stating he heard a gunshot and suddenly started bleeding while driving south on Aurora Avenue near Raye Street in Seattle. Officers found the victim was suffering from a gunshot wound to his leg. A bullet was fired through the victim’s door from a passing vehicle, according to court documents. 

The victim was driving a Tesla Model 3 which had exterior video cameras that recorded the incident. Video from the Tesla’s hard drive showed the suspect’s vehicle, a 1996-1998 Accrual TL with chrome rims. The video, captured from the driver’s side of the Tesla, captured the occupant’s hand pointing a handgun toward the victim as he drove by. The occupant appeared to be a Black male based on the color of the skin of his hand, according to court documents. 

The next day, on Oct. 18 at around 4:33 p.m., a third victim called 911 to report someone had shot through her window while she was driving. She had her three children, a 12-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 9-month old with her in the car. The only injuries she sustained were lacerations on her face from the broken glass. 

The victim reported the suspect pulled out from behind her into the center lane and drove up beside her before firing a round into her window. The victim said the suspect’s vehicle was an older tan sedan. 

On Oct. 19, a family member of the suspect called 911 and said they were concerned for Leffall’s mental health and worried he might hurt someone. Detectives searched Seattle police report records and found a report from September, detailing a collision Leffall was involved in during which he got into an argument with the other party. Leffall was driving a tan 1997 Acura TL. 

Detectives reviewed the bodycam footage from the incident and found the car was the same color and had the same distinctive chrome wheels as the suspect vehicle in the robbery incident and one of the shooting incidents. Leffall’s physical appearance also appeared to match the suspect description and physical stature, according to court documents.

Leffall has three prior felony convictions in Washington for taking a motor vehicle without permission, possession of stolen property and malicious mischief. He is prohibited from owning a firearm by Washington state law. 

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