A man accused of fatally shooting an acquaintance and leaving his body in a burning treehouse near Orting was angry that the other man stole his Harley Davidson motorcycle, records show.
Troy Joe Chute, 42 of Orting, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and first-degree assault. Chute pleaded not guilty at arraignment, and Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail at $2 million.
The victim, whose remains were found in a treehouse along the Carbon River, was identified as 34-year-old Jacob Nicholas.
A woman Chute allegedly shot in the foot during the confrontation is expected to recover.
Defense attorney Bryan Hershman said outside court: “There’s certainly two sides to this.”
Charging papers give this account of the Monday morning incident:
The victims were inside the treehouse, which authorities said is sometimes used by transients, when Chute found them there “unexpectedly,” records show.
As Chute was climbing up the ladder, the woman put her foot on the barrel of the rifle and tried to push him down. That’s when the gun went off, and Chute accidentally shot her in the foot.
He then accused the other man of stealing his motorcycle and they argued.
During the fight, Chute allegedly shot Nicholas in the chest.
He then used a wheelbarrow to push the woman to the riverbank about three-quarters of a mile away.
Chute left her there while he crossed the swift-moving water alone and banged on the door of a home on Pioneer Way East to ask for help bringing the injured woman across the river. A man there helped load her into an inflatable raft before he and Chute ferried her across the river.
Deputies responded to a 911 call about 3:30 a.m. and found the woman at the home with a gunshot wound to the foot.
The blood-covered wheelbarrow across the river had a pistol inside, and the treehouse was on fire.
Investigators later found human remains and a rifle inside the destroyed treehouse.
Chute was spotted about 8 a.m. wearing hip waders and walking south along the river with a pit bull. SWAT members found him hiding behind a tree on a steep hillside and took him into custody. The dog was dropped off to a family member.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653