Startup man charged with premeditated murder of grandmother’s friend

Tristan Trinh had been arrested for investigation of second-degree murder in Roy Ashmore’s death this month. Ashmore was 39.

Roy Ashmore (Family photo)

Roy Ashmore (Family photo)

STARTUP — The day before he allegedly killed a Sultan man this month, Tristan Trinh’s grandmother wanted police to have him committed for mental health treatment.

On the night of Aug. 5, the grandmother called 911 to report Trinh’s “problematic behavior,” according to charges filed Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court. Trinh had reportedly knocked on her door and exposed himself. The grandmother, 69, resided at a house in the 36700 block of U.S. 2 in Startup. Trinh, 23, lived in a cabin on the property.

Since the grandmother reportedly didn’t describe any immediate safety concerns, Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies found the situation didn’t merit involuntary commitment. They explained how she could get a civil protection order online. Trinh and the grandmother said they would go to bed and stay away from each other.

No more 911 calls came in from that address for the rest of the night, according to court documents.

But on the morning of Aug. 6, Trinh again exposed himself to his grandmother, the charges say. So around 8 a.m., she began filling out a protection order. To help her leave, she called Roy Ashmore, a close friend who had helped her with construction projects. He was going to let her stay at his house.

Around 11 a.m. that morning, Ashmore arrived, according to court papers. He and his young son tried to enter the door to the Haystack Company antique store, which the grandmother owned. Trinh blocked their entrance. A struggle ensued at the doorway.

“Where’s your grandma?” Ashmore reportedly yelled multiple times.

Eventually, Ashmore was able to get inside the antique store. He and Trinh fought, according to court documents. Ashmore repeatedly told Trinh to stop frightening the grandmother. He also told Trinh to leave the property. Ashmore tried to restrain Trinh, but the defendant repeatedly hit him in the head.

Ashmore reportedly asked if Trinh was going to “start being nice.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Trinh responded, according to court papers.

At that point, the fight stopped. Ashmore hugged the grandmother and told her how sorry he was that she going through this, according to the charges. He said Trinh wouldn’t terrorize her anymore.

Ashmore, his son, the grandmother and another witness moved to the parking lot to discuss what to do next. Meanwhile, Trinh reportedly stood near a dumpster more than 25 feet away. Ashmore wanted to talk to Trinh to get him to leave.

Ashmore approached Trinh, the grandmother reported. Despite Ashmore staying more than 10 feet away, Trinh accused Ashmore of attacking him.

Surveillance video reportedly shows Trinh pulling a .22-caliber Magnum pistol out of his pocket and pointing at Ashmore. A few seconds later, Trinh looks over his shoulder. Ashmore turns around and walks away. Trinh takes a step forward and fires multiple times.

Ashmore’s son was watching, according to the charges.

The son told investigators his father looked at him after being shot, then fell to the ground, court documents say.

Trinh lowered his gun and moved toward Ashmore. At point blank, Trinh shot Ashmore again, prosecutors allege. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office found Ashmore was shot in the body several times and once in the back of the head. The victim was 39.

Trinh fled, but a witness caught him. The suspect told the witness, “I respect you.” They walked back to the store together to wait for police, according to court papers. The suspect then dropped the pistol in the grass, but wouldn’t move away from it.

Trinh later told police he “had to kill him.” Deputies arrested Trinh for investigation of second-degree murder. But in a report, a detective opined the killing could merit first-degree premeditated murder.

Prosecutors agreed, charging Trinh last week with first-degree murder.

On Tuesday, he remained in the Snohomish County Jail with bail set at $1 million. Court records show he has no criminal history.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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