Friends defend suspect in deadly Scottsdale road rage shooting

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Friends of a man accused of murder in a Scottsdale road rage shooting last week gathered Monday in his defense.

Dave Appleton, 59, is charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of 50-year-old Paul "Tom" Pearson last Thursday in north Scottsdale.

Appleton told Scottsdale police he and Pearson got into a road rage argument while driving near Pima and Pinnacle Peak roads.

Appleton claims he pulled over and parked near a CVS drug store and Pearson followed him.

Investigators say Appleton told them Pearson started choking him so he shot Pearson in the chest, killing him.

"It's unfortunate Pearson picked the wrong target," said Appleton's friend, Vauda Jordan.  "(Pearson) bullied the wrong person.  Dave defended himself because his life was at stake."

But court documents released Monday tell a different story.

Scottsdale police say Appleton had no marks on his neck.

In fact, investigators claim they could find no evidence Pearson choked Appleton.

Furthermore, Scottsdale police allege Appleton called 911 twice this year in separate road rage incidents.

According to court documents, Appleton followed a woman home in one instance.  In the other, a dispatcher claims they had to talk Appleton out of pulling his gun on another driver.

Appleton's friends maintain he acted in self defense to protect himself.  They want him released from jail claiming he did nothing wrong.

"(Appleton) is the most gentle man," said friend Ina Mlekush.  "He's a very caring man.  He is the victim here."

Pearson leaves behind a wife and three daughters.  A memorial fund has been set up through Wells Fargo bank.

Appleton remains behind bars on a $500,000 bond.

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