Phillip Z. Cowles, 17, is escorted into the courtroom at Clallam County Juvenile and Family Services on Wednesday, where he was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 19-year-old Tristen Pisani. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Phillip Z. Cowles, 17, is escorted into the courtroom at Clallam County Juvenile and Family Services on Wednesday, where he was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 19-year-old Tristen Pisani. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Forks teen charged with murder

PORT ANGELES — A 17-year-old, who investigators said admitted to taking a handgun from his mother’s closet before shooting and killing Tristen LeeShawn James Pisani after a party in Forks, has been charged with first-degree murder with a firearm.

Phillip Z. Cowles, who remains in the Clallam County juvenile detention facility on $1 million bail, appeared in court at Juvenile and Family Services on Wednesday, where he was formally charged with the murder of Pisani, 19.

Arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 13 in Clallam County Superior Court at the Clallam County Courthouse.

Michele Devlin, chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, attempted to persuade Superior Court Judge Brent Basden that Cowles should be shackled before entering the courtroom, citing concerns about his rage.

She said Cowles had been in counseling for expressing homicidal ideations.

Devlin said Cowles had expressed in August that he was “going to cut up his dog and leave it on the football field,” and that the state had concerns for the safety of those in the courtroom.

Cowles’ attorney, Harry Gasnick, argued that since Cowles’ arrest Sunday he has been a “model inmate” and that the circumstances that led to his rage Sunday — alcohol and bullying — were not present in the courtroom.

What was present, he said, were plenty of law enforcement officers.

“Given those considerations and the presence of law enforcement,” Basden allowed Cowles to enter the courtroom unshackled.

“I’m not finding in this setting at this time, given the presence of law enforcement, that there’s a risk,” Basden said.

According to court papers, Cowles admitted to paramedics, doctors and law enforcement officers that he shot and killed Pisani after being called a “tweek” and a series of antagonizing texts that “pushed him too far.”

Witnesses told investigators that Cowles showed up to a party at Pisani’s home on the 1300 block of Big Burn Place in Forks and was acting strange. When Pisani asked Cowles why he was “tweaking,” Cowles said not to call him a tweaker, according to court records.

Cowles left the party with a friend and was dropped off at his home, court papers say.

Cowles told investigators he took a knife, a revolver and .44 caliber ammunition from the closet in his mother’s bedroom before walking 1.7 miles back to the party.

“I knew what I was going to do,” Cowles said during an interview with investigators, according to court records.

Witnesses said Cowles went back to the house after the party had ended, aimed the gun at Pisani’s head and said “don’t call me a tweaker,” before firing the gun.

Cowles told investigators that Pisani told him to “go ahead, do it.”

“I remember the rage overtook me,” Cowles said, according to court records. “As soon as I pulled that trigger. I didn’t even have to hear that sound. I knew what I did.”

That’s when witnesses detained Cowles. They struggled for the firearm and one person held Cowles at gunpoint while kicking him in the head.

“When they bully a guy to no extent eventually he going to do something,” Cowles said, according to court papers. “They bullied me. I shouldn’t have done what I did. I had to do something.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].