Lewis County prosecutors decline to charge suspects in an apparent manslaughter case

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 5:31 PM PDT
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LEWIS COUNTY Wash. (KPTV) - It’s been eight months since 49-year-old Aron Christensen was found dead along a forest trail in Lewis County and those suspected of killing him will not be charged.

Josh Jones is a long-time friend of Christensen. He said he is beyond disappointed by the decision to hold anyone accountable for Christensen’s death. But at the same time, he’s not surprised.

“I feel like the District Attorney kind of passed the buck,” Jones said. “He straight up says the Sheriff’s Office messed it up, which they did. But I also think there could have been something a little more there. But maybe he says he’ll do the misdemeanor charges.”

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On August 19 of last year, Christensen was camping with his friends in Lewis County. His friends told investigators he went on a solo hike that evening with his dog near the Walupt Lake Campground. When Christensen didn’t return, his friends reported him missing the next day. They found a Lewis County Deputy nearby who was investigating a report of a body found along a trail.

The body was determined to be Christensen and his dog’s body was found next to him. Initially, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said he died from a heart attack but then the medical examiner’s office said he was shot and killed. A homicide investigation began shortly after. It wasn’t until the end of October that 20-year-old Ethan Asbach and a 17-year-old girl were referred to the prosecutor’s office for manslaughter charges. But the next week, the Lewis County Prosecutor sent the case back to investigators.

“When they initially botched it and said it was a heart attack, it hurt but I could process it,” Jones said. “I was like ‘OK maybe he was hiking too hard.’ My brain was going through all these thoughts. Then I found out the real reason and there was no accountability.”

Jones said at this moment he’s lost faith in the Lewis County justice system. He said he still wants justice for his long-time friend.

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“It’s just not fair,” Jones said. “It causes a lot of anger, and a lot of emotion.”

FOX 12 did reach out to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office for comment but they declined at this time. The prosecutor’s office has yet to respond to our requests for comment.