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Man beaten to death on Seattle street by serial criminal just released from jail

Police car at the back of the Fiestas Patrias Parade, South Park, Seattle, Washington, U.S., September 16, 2017. (Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)
August 23, 2022

Just days after being released from jail, a serial criminal violently beat a man to death with a metal bar in Seattle in broad daylight. The killing took place on the sidewalk of a busy street.

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According to KOMO News on Friday, Aaron Fulk, 48, violently attacked Rodney Peterman, 66, in broad daylight in downtown Seattle on Aug. 2. Fulk continued to beat Peterman with the metal pole even after the victim had fallen to the ground unconscious. Fulk eventually fractured Peterman’s skull and left him for dead on the sidewalk. 

While Fulk was arrested and charged for his role in the death of Peterman, court records show that Pierce County Superior Court Judge Philip Thornton had released the assailant just days before the deadly attack. 

Eight days before killing Peterman, Thornton ordered Fulk’s release without bail after he had been arrested for threatening to kill a security officer in Tacoma and despite having a history of assault and aggravated battery. Prosecutors asked that Fulk be held on $10,000 bail, but Thornton ignored the request and instead released Fulk with the order that he not commit any more crimes. 

Loren Page, a witness to the attack, attempted to intervene in the brutal beating that occurred at 3rd Avenue and Pike Street. 

“No one deserves to be brutally beat like that,” Page said. “I apologize for not being there, one more club strike earlier. It’s unacceptable. It should not happen in any city. We should do something about it.”

Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz said courts frequently release dangerous criminals in the city.

In one such instance, officers arrested an armed 16-year-old fentanyl dealer twice at 3rd Avenue and Pike Street just weeks apart. The court released the teen to his mother after the first arrest. After the second arrest, the teen was released again with electronic home monitoring. 

“We can’t just let people out if they’re harming our community. If they’re victimizing other people. we’ve got to have measures in place, we’ve got to have accountability,” Diaz said. “That’s a huge concern. But to have somebody where they’re actually carrying a gun in both cases, and they’re dealing fentanyl. They’re a harm to our community.”

Retired Seattle Judge Shirley Wilson said judges “have a lot of power and discretion” which is why “voting for judges” is “serious.”

“They have a lot of power and discretion, and they make really important decisions,” she said. “When people are voting, because they have such little information on judges, I don’t think people take that into consideration and I don’t think people take voting for judges to be serious, but it is.”

When it comes to releasing criminals, Wilson said judges are sometimes forced to go with their “gut.”

“I would say from a judge’s perspective, that’s one of our biggest fears as well,” Wilson said. “I have to do each case individually and sometimes bottom line, it comes down to what does my gut tells me. ‘Do I believe they’re going to show up or not? do I believe they’re going to commit a violent crime or not?’ And that’s kind of where you have to go.”

In a similar incident, a man was beaten to death on a street in Italy earlier this month as a bystander filmed the attack and onlookers failed to intervene.