Sultan man guilty of murder

Terilynn Gardner, 18, was suspected of stealing some clothes and jewelry from Aaron Robert Bander’s girlfriend.

For that, her killers decided to teach her a grim lesson. She suffered a horrible death a year ago, bludgeoned repeatedly. Her throat also was slit.

A Snohomish County Superior Court jury on Wednesday found Bander guilty of first-degree murder for killing Gardner.

Bander’s penalty will be more than 20 years in prison.

Bander, 22, of Sultan, had been on trial for more than a week, charged in the Nov. 3, 2006, killing.

The young victim had been living on the streets, staying at various locations. Her street name was Precious. She was a drug user, according to testimony. The prosecutor said her death didn’t make sense.

Gardner suffered 26 severe head injures, a half-dozen of which could have caused her death. When she didn’t die right away, her throat was cut.

Prosecutors allege it was Bander and his girlfriend, Suzie Kay Le, 18, of Everett, who kept Gardner prisoner in a south Everett apartment and killed her.

Le also faces a first-degree murder charge and is scheduled for trial in mid-November.

Gardner’s body was wrapped in a shower curtain, a blanket and other material. It was dumped in the trunk of a stolen car. Her body wasn’t discovered for several days after her death.

The trial included a parade of forensic scientists who tested of a variety of evidence for genetic material. Some of the DNA linked Bander to the crime, including a cigarette found on the floorboard of the stolen car.

Key witnesses also included two people who testified that Bander confessed to the crime.

One of them told police that after describing what happened to Gardner, Bander related that he “had to finish the job,” by cutting her throat, said Helene Blume, deputy prosecutor, in her closing arguments to the jury on Wednesday.

Dr. Norman Thiersch, Snohomish County medical examiner, said any one of six blows to the head and the throat cut were fatal wounds.

“None of these injuries occurred by accident,” Blume told jurors while emphasizing her contention that Gardner’s death was intentional. “This was no accident. This was no mistake.”

She also told the jury: “I submit to you this crime is the most senseless crime you ever heard about.”

The prosecutor alleged that Gardner was kept in a south Everett apartment for two days, most of the time bound to a chair, while she was periodically beaten with a hammer and a golf club. Blume alleged that Bander recruited a friend to steal the car to hide the body.

Public defender Susan Gaer agreed that Gardner suffered a tragic death. She told jurors that the prosecutor didn’t prove that Bander was responsible.

“They could not because he didn’t do it,” Gaer said.

Gaer told the jury the prosecutor’s case was filled with doubts about who was responsible, and authorities could not piece together exactly what happened.

“There are a multitude of questions in this case for which there is no answer,” Gaer said. “There is no evidence to tell you what happened.”

Jurors and found Bander guilty after less than four hours of deliberation. Judge Richard Thorpe is scheduled to sentence Bander on Dec. 17.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

Granite Falls
Man, 35, dies from heart attack while hiking Lake 22

The man suffered a heart attack about 1½ miles into the 6-mile hike east of Granite Falls on Friday, authorities said.

36 hours after final show, Everett radio host Charlye Parker, 80, dies

When Parker got into radio, she was a rarity: a woman in a DJ booth. For the past 12 years, she hosted weekend country music shows at KXA.

Homeowners Jim and Chris Hall stand beneath their new heat pump, at right, inside their Whidbey Island home on Thursday, Sep. 7, 2023, near Langley, Washington. The couple, who are from Alaska, have decreased their use of their wood burning stove to reduce their carbon footprint. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County to start ‘kicking gas’ in push for all-electric homes

Last year, 118 Whidbey Island homes installed energy-efficient heat pumps. A new campaign aims to make the case for induction stoves now, too.

Dr. Scott Macfee and Dr. Daniel Goodman outside of the Community Health Center on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett CHC doctors, feeling like ‘commodities,’ speak up on ailing system

At the Community Health Center of Snohomish County, doctors say they feel like “rats getting off a sinking ship.” They want it to get better.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Man charged with shooting at ex-girlfriend, child in Mountlake Terrace

The man, 21, showed up to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and opened fire through the door, new court records say.

People walk along Olympic Avenue past Lifeway Cafe and Olympic Theater that currently hosts Lifeway Church on Friday, July 7, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington churches waged covert ‘battle’ against Pride event, records show

Sermons, emails and interviews reveal how an LGBTQ+ nonprofit became the target of a covert campaign by local evangelical leaders.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.