Teens charged in shooting death of Mercer County 17-year-old plead not guilty

Tristan Cole
Tristan Cole

A Mercer County teen has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and robbery in connection with the April death of 17-year-old Tristan Cole.

Trent Easterling, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, appeared Tuesday in Mercer Circuit Court to enter the plea, said Mercer County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms. Easterling is to be tried as an adult.

Two other teens have been charged with tampering with physical evidence in the case. Zachary Lay and Meagan Sims, both 18, also entered not guilty pleas in Mercer Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Bottoms said Cole and the three defendants were all students at Mercer County High School. Cole was a junior who enjoyed hunting, fishing and video games, according to an obituary.

Cole was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds the night of April 13 in a rural part of Mercer County off Deep Creek Road.

Easterling is being held in a juvenile facility, Bottoms said. Lay and Sims are out on bond.