David Appleton -- Scottsdale Defense Attorney Accused of Murdering Motorist -- Has History of Road-Rage Incidents

Categories: Streets of Rage
appleton.jpg
MCSO
Attorney David Appleton has been involved in three road-rage incidents since March. His latest ended with Appleton fatally shooting an unarmed motorist.
David Appleton, a Scottsdale defense attorney who once served as the president of the Phoenix Trial Lawyer's Association, fatally shot a motorist last week during an apparent road-rage incident.

Turns out, Appleton's got a bit of a history in the road-rage department.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, Appleton's called Scottsdale police twice this year to report road-rage incidents. In both cases, police determined Appleton was the aggressor.

In March, Appleton -- who always travels with a gun in his vehicle "for protection" -- called 9-1-1 to report that he'd been cut off by another motorist and that he planned on pulling out his gun, presumably to scare or injure the other driver. The 9-1-1 operator advised him not to do it, but Appleton said he planned to anyway. In that case, Appleton didn't shoot anyone, and no charges were filed against him or the other motorist.

In another incident this year, Appleton called police to report that he spotted a woman driving 100 miles per hour. He followed her to her gated community where his pursuit of the woman ended without violence.

Neither Appleton or the other driver was cited, but police determined that based on the 9-1-1 call, Appleton was the aggressor.

With two calls to police already this year to essentially report his own road rage, Appleton didn't bother to call police on Thursday, when his latest road-rage incident ended with him fatally shooting 50-year-old Paul Pearson, a father of three.

According to Appleton, about 6:45 p.m. Thursday, he left a Phoenix restaurant where he'd had dinner with friends. As he was driving to his North Phoenix home, he sped up to catch a green light at the intersection of Pima Road and Thompson Peak Parkway, but he was unable to make it because Pearson's car was in the way.

While stopped at the intersection, Pearson and Appleton each rolled down their windows and exchanged profanities.

Appleton claims Pearson followed him for about a mile before he pulled into the parking lot of a nearby CVS pharmacy. He claims Pearson followed him into the parking lot -- and that's when he removed his loaded .38 Special from his glove box and placed it on the passenger seat.

Pearson got out of his car and approached Appleton's window as the two men continued to argue. Pearson, Appleton claims, reached in the window and grabbed the attorney's wrist. Appleton was able to break free from Pearson's grip, he says, but Pearson then grabbed him by the throat.

Appleton claims he was unable to breathe and feared he might pass out as Pearson choked him. He says he then grabbed his gun and pointed it at Pearson.

"Don't shoot me with that gun," Pearson then warned.

Appleton fired anyway, hitting Pearson in the chest.

Pearson died on the way to the hospital after Appleton called police to tell them he'd just shot another motorist.

The entire time Pearson and Appleton argued, Pearson was on his cell phone talking with his cousin. He told her he'd seen a man try to run a red light and that he was apparently upset with him. The cousin later told police she heard the two men argue before a brief scuffle. The phone then went dead.

Police interviewed Appleton following the shooting. They determined there was no evidence to suggest he had been choked or that Pearson even grabbed his wrist -- the only evidence of any injury was a broken fingernail on Appleton's pinky.

Police asked him why he didn't call police when he saw Pearson following him -- as he'd done during the prior road-rage incidents. He had no answer, other than to say it was "stupid."

Appleton was booked on one count of second-degree murder. Because of his "repetitive behavior of continually being involved in traffic altercations," police recommended that his bail be set at $500,000.
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108 comments
Dsrtdog1
Dsrtdog1

I really can not believe that the charges were dropped.  Being a member of the trial lawyers association means one of his friends dropped those charges.

Imraylewis
Imraylewis

Lynch that mother fucker he's 5 8" 165 lbs and has little man syndrome his past shows he's the criminal 3 road rages since March he's guilty hang this motherfucker

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

"...police later confirmed reports that the top three buttons on Appleton's shirt were torn.  Investigators impounded the shirt as evidence and are running forensic tests on it."

"...According to police, if Pearson chocked Appleton, then there will be DNA evidence on Appleton's shirt.  A decision to re-file charges could take several weeks, police said."

http://www.kpho.com/story/1607...

dj7u
dj7u

NEW NEWS UPDATE EVERYBODY:

http://www.azcentral.com/commu...

Appleton told Scottsdale police when they asked why didn't you call 911 if you were in fear? He had no reply and then said,"what I did was stupid." Wow, sounds like this man is guilty as sin. Can you say "consciousness of guilt." When you kill in outright self defense this isn't a statement consistent with that.

As Pearson approached from passenger side as I've always said. Appleton admitted his .38 revolver laying on the passenger seat. Appleton was baiting him for sure looking for trouble and boy did he get it.

dj7u
dj7u

Dave Appleton is innocent, you're ignorant of the law. Driving 100 MPH isn't a felony. It's a 30 day max misdemeanor(ARS 28-701.02 (A)(3) Just another lie you're spewing: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/F... The other incident the person merely cut him off. What felony is that? Chill out layman.

dj7u
dj7u

Dave Appleton is innocent, you mimic what your buddy Appleton did and you'll be in his jail cell with him. Big guy. Again, the deceased was found on the passenger side of Appleton's Toyota FJ by CBS!

Bottom line is when everything is said and done I was right on both accounts from the other people commenting on the other New Times Appleton article.

1. I always said that your home has more protections than a car. Sfrank (AZ firearms instructor), was wrong agreeing with Marcy originally by saying cars & homes are the same. You admitted yourself. When you slipped and finally admitted:

"The only time this is an exception is if they broke into your home as it is presumed that they intend to cause serious bodily injury or death under castle doctrine law."

2. I always said that you cannot shoot just due to someone entering a car window with their hand & saying a threat. So, Marcy was wrong in the end. You said two things were all that was necessary. Hand through window and threaten. Even your buddy Sfrank disagrees with your pathetic legal analysis by saying the person there's essentially three things: "must have a means to carry out that threat" for deadly force. For example, if someone reached in and says shut up or I'll kill you. You'd need to see some deadly weapon. Even, say Pepper spray isn't a means since its not considered deadly force. So, back to what I originally said you can only use deadly force to repel deadly force!

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

"Dave Appleton is innocent" - You can quote the law all you want, it doesn't change the fact the State has charged him with Second Degree Murder. Obviously, they feel as though they have incontrovertible evidence that he was in violation of the law you are referring to. This means that it is going to be up to a jury. What do you think a jury will think of Appleton's behavior? They are not going to be blinded by legalese on the part of the defense. They are going to see a sleezeball lawyer with a history of aggressive behavior who shot and killed an innocent father of three in a back alley. The defense that he "had the right to kill" will not play well in front of your typical jury of senior citizens and housewives. Pardon my french but, your boy is screwed.

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

Knock yourselves out with your skewed views.  The shooting happened in a parking lot, not the roadway.  Appleton was seated in his parked car, hardly in a position to assault or defend himself physically, Pearson followed him to the parking lot, exited his own vehicle, no longer a motorist, went to Appleton's car, threatened and assaulted him and received a bullet as a reward for his efforts.  It's not road-rage, Appleton was the victim of a felony, he protected his life.  Your problem is that he did it using lethal force.  Whine about it all you want, it was legal and he should be released now.

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

Obviously the police do not believe Appleton's version of events, why should we?  If they felt that his claim of assault had any validity they would not have charged him with Second Degree Murder.  The simple fact is that Appleton, by his own admission, instigated the entire confrontation.  He admitted that he became irate with Pearson when Pearson wasn't driving fast enough for him to make it through a green light.  He admitted that he pulled up alongside Pearson's car, rolled down his window and verbally assaulted him.  He admitted that he cut Pearson off and deliberately prevented him from passing his car.  These events alone constitute a violation of Arizona's Aggressive driving law.

Furthermore, he also admits to brandishing a weapon and threatening Pearson.  Beyond that his story becomes incoherent and questionable.  Last, but certainly not least, rumor has it that the police have witnesses who have contradicted Appleton's story.  Combine all this with Appleton's noted record of aggressive and confrontational behavior and you have what a prosecutor would call a "slam dunk".  Appleton is a lawyer so he knows the score, I bet they offer him a plea for manslaughter and he takes it.  I am not sure that will be enough of a punishment for a cretin of his caliber, but at least he'll be prevented from owning another firearm again.

I am a gun owner myself, and I will defend to the death the rights enshrined in the 2nd Amendment, but nonetheless, aggressive, bullying cowards like Dave Appleton need to be held accountable for their murderous behavior.  A responsible gun owner knows that a firearm should only to be used for self-defense, a criminal thinks a gun is a means to an end.  In my opinion, and in the opinion of the Scottsdale PD apparently, Dave Appleton belongs to the latter group.

Mgmurphy1
Mgmurphy1

Congratulations. A very intelligent response from an actual gun owner! If we were to hear more from rational folks like you instead of the defensive, "don't mess with my guns under any circumstances" crowd, this whole gun ownership squabble might possibly be solved one day. 

Or is that too optimistic??    

BoggyPhillip
BoggyPhillip

It's hardly reasonable.  Every reason Max gave to justify the assertion that "Appleton instigated the confrontation" is a skewed, twisted version of the few facts that have actually been printed in available sources, outside of the "becoming irate" part.  Every version I've read suggested both drivers rolled down their windows and screamed at each other, that Appleton claimed Pearson was tailgating him afterward rather than that he himself was preventing Pearson from passing, etc., that he pulled his revolver out and set it on the seat to have ready which is hardly the same as "brandishing", and that by the time he picked it up, his neck was, erm, occupied and unavailable for issuing threats.  Maybe it's me but I don't think concocting a bunch of fantasy really counts as an intelligent resonse.

bdmorrison
bdmorrison

Well said maxonepercent!  Someone said that they could see marks on Appleton's neck where he had been choked (in the mugshot for his arrest for homicide)  I saw nothing, I even got out my magnifying glass for a closer look.  This goes to show that people who are defending this nut job will do so no matter what evidence is presented.   

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

13-404 B 3 a is what Appleton did by producing his firearm, communicating his intent to withdraw from the encounter.  It wasn't respected by Pearson, evidently.

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

13-404 B 3 b is the focus here.  The assailant did not back away or stop assaulting, he only said "Don't shoot me with that gun".  If that is on the phone recording, it is pretty much open and shut.  It is not a normal response to self-defense and would imply that he's not going to let go of Appleton's neck unless he puts his weapon down.

dj7u
dj7u

You have no common sense he was choking a guy out while on the cell phone? You're nutty.

BoggyPhillip
BoggyPhillip

Nobody said he was holding the cell phone - only that there was still a live connection while the Pearson was over getting in Appleton's face.  He set the cell phone down without hanging it up and walked over to Appleton's car.  So what?

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

13-413. No civil liability for justified conduct

No person in this state shall be subject to civil liability for engaging in conduct otherwise justified pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.  

Truthwarriior
Truthwarriior

that will be up to the jury counselor...stick to criminal defense work

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

13-405. Justification; use of deadly physical force

A. A person is justified in threatening or using deadly physical force against another:

1. If such person would be justified in threatening or using physical force against the other under section 13-404, and

2. When and to the degree a reasonable person would believe that deadly physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly physical force.

B. A person has no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force pursuant to this section if the person is in a place where the person may legally be and is not engaged in an unlawful act.  

dj7u
dj7u

We went all over this justiofication on the other Appleton New Times article. Sfrank is an AZ firearms instructor.

The laymen when reading the justification statute really thinks a threat & fear is good enough. But, experts like Sfrank said you must have a means to carry out the threat like carrying a deadly weapon. If I stick my head in your passenger side and said I'm going to hurt you isn't enough unless you see the I have some deadly weapon (baseball bat, knife, gun, broken bottle, screwdriver, rock, etc). In other words, present a means to carry out such threat!

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

13-404. Justification; self-defense

A. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.

B. The threat or use of physical force against another is not justified:

1. In response to verbal provocation alone; or

2. To resist an arrest that the person knows or should know is being made by a peace officer or by a person acting in a peace officer's presence and at his direction, whether the arrest is lawful or unlawful, unless the physical force used by the peace officer exceeds that allowed by law; or

3. If the person provoked the other's use or attempted use of unlawful physical force, unless:

(a) The person withdraws from the encounter or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely withdraw from the encounter; and

(b) The other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful physical force against the person.

dj7u
dj7u

Rob, funny how nobody was making comments in support of Appleton yesterday. That's right all his few supporters were in front of MCSO jail yesterday. Today, those same protestors must be on their media blitz. Sorry, nobody who knows the law regarding force is ok with shooting an unarmed man without a single mark on Appleton. Plus, mere verbal threats aren't sufficient without being armed with a means to carry out the threat.

Brazenmermaid
Brazenmermaid

Or maybe it's because the article was posted in the afternoon while people are working and they have families to take care of in the evening?

Dj7u
Dj7u

Appleton has brandished a gun at another driver while driving which is felony disorderly conduct for displaying a deadly weapon recklessly. He just feels he's above the law for so long. Karma is a bitch!

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

These prior instances where he called 911 show a LACK of road-rage on his part and he communicated what he was doing under the law.  He knows the law because he defended people in similar situations.  "another driver" in the case you mention above was road-raging, using their vehicle as a weapon against Dave Appleton, not just driving recklessly, but with intent to endanger.  Dave Appleton was within his rights under 114 / SB 1243 / §13-421 / Defensive display of firearms protection, the law knew it, thus he wasn't charged with a crime.  If it were criminal, by his own admission he would have been booked.  This is why there really is no precedent to the detention and lofty bail amount.  There is an anti-gun undercurrent in this case, and they would like to have their field day with Dave Appleton.  My guess is he has been on New Times proverbial "list" for defending gun owners rights.

Rob
Rob

Interesting how this poster continues to attempt making this personal and implying consensus opinion.  We'll see how this turns out, most likely Appleton will be released in light of his compliance with Arizona Law and the weak arguments for prosecution.  And, most likely there will be no New Times retraction of the erroneous "shot another motorist" sentence, either way you wish to interpret it, it's wrong.  And, most likely there will be no follow up exonerating Appleton publicly, like they did to smear him.

Dj7u
Dj7u

You people are sick you really think if someone reaches in your car and threatens you. That you can legally shoot. Go to the county attorney's office and ask if they would file on you for that? Oh, that's right you don't want to let the cat out of the bag early so when it does happen they don't see that it was premeditation and first degree murder?

annonymous
annonymous

what is wrong with you people he killed a man and there were witnesses to the fact that Tom Pearson(a kind gentle man, devoted father and husband) DID NOT CHOKE this monster who obviously has rage issues.

He left a widow and e teenage children without their father, all because he felt he could take the laws into his own hands. Did you all miss the fact that he lied about Tom choking him-a criminal lawyer who knew exactly what to say. Accuse the victim and say it was self defense.

BoggyPhillip
BoggyPhillip

"Actually, you can try driving away just fine while someone is choking you."

...assuming your car was pointed in a useful direction for your acceleration to 30 MPH with no impediments in the way - either directly or, say, blocking the lone exit.  And assuming that you were able to start it and put it into gear while losing consciousness.  Just fine, I'm sure.  Makes sense to me.

BoggyPhillip
BoggyPhillip

"It is blatantly apparent that he was actively seeking confrontations with other drivers."

Ah, got it.  "David Appleton - traffic vigilante!"  "He cruises the city at night seeking out the slow-moving denizens from Hell, armed only with his trusty .38 revolver - because he KNOWS he can lure them into the CVS parking lot and kill them with one shot to the chest!"  Hey, Max, I'm not sure if you have much grip on reality but with your imagineation, I'd get into video game backstories.  Or maybe HBO could use an idea man like you.  That's pretty good!

dj7u
dj7u

Brazenmermaid, you and Dave is innocent like spewing outright lies. You must both protesters that were at the MCSO jail for Appleton. Actually, you can try driving away just fine while someone is choking you. It would work out great. Especially, once you hit 30MPH.

dj7u
dj7u

Correction. Appleton's actions are what got him charged with 2nd degree intentional murder by his own ignorant admission.

dj7u
dj7u

Dave Appleton is innocent, you're ignorant of the law. Driving 100 MPH isn't a felony. It's a 30 day max misdemeanor(ARS 28-701.02 (A)(3) Just another lie you're spewing:

http://www.azleg.state.az.us/F...

The other incident the person merely cut him off. What felony is that? Chill out layman.

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

"Why weren't any charges filed" - Good question, I am asking the same thing.  If he had been charged and the police had correctly done their job in those incidents Paul Pearson would not be dead right now and three kids wouldn't have lost their father.  Like it or not the previous calls illustrate an aggressive and confrontational pattern of behavior on the part of Appleton.  It is blatantly apparent that he was actively seeking confrontations with other drivers, the fact that he was carrying a gun at the same time means that he was an absolute threat to greater society.  It was clearly only a matter of time before this happened, now that it has he will be held accountable.

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

"Innocent bystander"?  How about stalker, harasser, intimidator and assailant?  People, Pearson's ACTIONS are what got himself shot.

Dave Appleton is innocent
Dave Appleton is innocent

Bullshit.  Pearson followed him, got out of his car, walked to Appleton's parked car, threatened and asaulted Appleton, OF HIS OWN VOLITION.  An arrest in a self-defense shooting is common if not the rule.  The detention and lofty bail are not however.  The accusations of prior road-rage is a sick joke, both times he witnessed felonies occurring and reported them.  How could he make someone drive 100 miles per hour or cause another to endanger with a motor vehicle?  He wasn't the aggressor, he saw crimes in action and did what he felt was his duty.  If he was an "aggressor" why weren't any charges filed?

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

No, it is because he is a bully and a coward.  He deliberately instigated a fight with stranger because said stranger was not driving fast enough for him, he manipulated the stranger into confronting him in a dark back alley, and then he shot him in cold-blood when he realized that he had bitten off more than he could chew.  It is classic behavior of a man with inadequacy issues and no regard for human life.  My prediction: he will plea to manslaughter.  The police would not have arrested him if they thought he had any chance of successfully employing a self-defense argument.

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

Explain how he was able to choke the driver while he was on the passenger side of the car.  The deceased was not 8 feet tall!  Moreover, Appleton made two admissions that virtually guarantee that he will by judged guilty for this crime: He reported that Pearson stated "don't shoot me with that gun" and Appleton shot him anyway, this implies that Appleton was threatening Pearson with a gun.  He also admitted that not calling the police was "stupid", thereby admitting he made an error in judgement.

maxonepercent
maxonepercent

 "The enraged party was the now deceased. "- actually, based on Appleton's extensive history of road rage I would say that the enraged party is now imprisoned and an innocent bystander is dead.  RIP Paul Pearson, Burn In Hell David Appleton

Brazenmermaid
Brazenmermaid

Try driving away while someones choking you.... let us know how it works out for you

Brazenmermaid
Brazenmermaid

What you are saying does not make any sense. Appleton has been a lawyer and has defended people in similar situations as himself for decades. He knows more than anyone how your life is ruined even if it was self-defense. You are labeled as a murderer and guilty until proven innocent by the media and by people that don't even have the facts. You have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in bail and legal fees. Your career suffers and you are unable to provide for yourself. He knows all this first hand. So why would he shoot someone if he knew that his life would be ruined afterwards from 25 years of experience in these situations? It could only because his life was in danger.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

It appears Appleton could merely have driven away, leaving Pearson standing alone in the dark parking lot. He chose to shoot, instead.

Rob
Rob

NO WAY, NOT "now ways" 

Rob
Rob

Yes, it is tragic and sad and no one is disputing that a family is without its father and husband.  I don't see that Appleton lied about being choked, that has yet to be proven by forensics. 

One fact remains that regardless of how kind and gentle the now deceased may have been on other occasions, this time he used his actual physical presence to threaten another, actually feeling ten-foot tall and bulletproof as evidenced by saying "don't shoot me with that gun".  Did Appleton have a reply or was his vocal capacity tied up at the moment?  If you noticed a rattlesnake coiled, rattling and rearing it's head back, would you say "Don't bite me" and think it will obey?  Or would you back away respecting it's lethal power? 

The now deceased GOT OUT OF HIS CAR, WALKED TO APPLETON'S PARKED CAR AND PHYSICALLY THREATENED HIM.  Appleton feared for his life.  Whether the other man was armed with a firearm or not is not the issue.

The enraged party was the now deceased.  How is that so hard to decipher?  Media spin's influence, that's how.

Replies are considered emails, so I want to clarify I am in now ways intending to intimidate or harass, only wanting to clarify communication.

Condolences to the family of the deceased and best wishes to Dave Appleton.  Hope to see you back at the range.

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