Killer back in custody; family investigated

Lakewood police over the weekend caught up with a man who'd been on the run since October when he failed to show up for sentencing in the shooting death of his friend.

Police arrested Matthew Fuller, 21, at a home in the 62000 block of 84th Street Southwest late Sunday after receiving a tip that he was there, police Lt. Chris Lawler said.

Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Patrick Oishi on Monday ordered Fuller held without bail until Sept. 10 when he’s to be sentenced in the death of Michael Avlakeotes, 20. Fuller faces eight years, six months to 10 years, six months in prison.

In September 2009, Fuller pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for killing Avlakeotes.

The two friends had been taking turns pointing a small-caliber pistol at each other and pulling the trigger over the course of a few days, court documents state. The game turned fatal the night of June 29, 2008. As Avlakeotes walked to the door to leave, Fuller pointed the gun at his friend and pulled the trigger. This time, the gun fired, and a bullet struck Avlakeotes in the back of the head.

Fuller initially told police Avlakeotes shot himself but later admitted to shooting his friend, court documents state. He told investigators he didn’t know how a live cartridge got chambered.

Fuller was out on $50,000 bail at the time of his plea, and Superior Court Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck allowed him to remain free until his Oct. 9 sentencing, according to court records.

“He showed up for everything but his sentencing,” Deputy Prosecutor Frank Krall said Monday.

When Fuller failed to appear, van Doorninck issued a warrant for his arrest. His case was featured on Q-13’s “Washington’s Most Wanted” last fall.

Officers recently received information Fuller was back in the area, and they went to his grandmother’s home Sunday night, Lawler said. A man matching Fuller’s description was spotted in the backyard, and he ran into the house as officers got into place.

Officers called to the house for Fuller to come out. Just after 10:45 p.m. Fuller’s wife and an infant came out, followed a few minutes later by his grandmother, Lawler said.

A short time later, officers heard a loud noise from inside. Fuller walked out of the house five minutes later.

He reportedly said he’d gone to Missouri after skipping out on his sentencing. He told police he’d returned to the Woodbrook area of Lakewood several months ago and more recently had been at his grandmother’s house, Lawler said.

Lakewood police are investigating his wife and grandmother on suspicion of harboring a fugitive and obstructing law enforcement officers, Lawler said.