2 murder charges filed in deadly shooting of couple on Key Peninsula
TACOMA, Wash. - The man suspected of shooting and killing a couple Saturday on the Key Peninsula has been officially charged with two counts of second-degree murder.
The suspect, identified as Cory Mason, was charged Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court.
Court documents and police reports say Mason shot his two victims, Beth and Luke Slawson, in the chest during a domestic violence incident while their 2-year-old child and Beth Slawson's sister were nearby.
"He was just an absolutely amazing God-sent man," said Luke Slawson's daughter Sarah, who was in the courtroom Wednesday. "And I loved him very much and he had no reason to die. He was a great man."
Mason claims he shot his two victims, Beth and Luke Slawson, in self-defense, court records show.
According to police and court documents, the Slawsons drove in separate vehicles to the 5500 block of Whiteman Road on Saturday to intercede in a domestic violence incident between the suspect and Beth's sister, who were in Mason's vehicle together. Beth also was reportedly upset with Mason over a dispute involving the sale of a handgun.
When they arrived, Beth Slawson began hitting Mason's vehicle with a "hammer-like object," court documents say.
At that point, Beth's sister got out of Mason's vehicle and grabbed the hammer away from Beth in an effort to defuse the situation. Meanwhile, Mason drove his vehicle about 50 feet away and parked it, according to the case file.
As Mason was moving his vehicle, Luke Slawson began firing a gun at a different vehicle Mason had parked earlier some distance away.
Mason then got out of his vehicle and continued arguing with Beth Slawson. Beth's sister told investigators that Mason then turned and shot Beth in the chest, according to court documents.
Luke Slawson walked over to where his wife had been shot, still holding a gun in his hand, according to the court record. He asked if Mason had shot his wife, and then Mason shot Luke in the chest, Beth's sister told investigators.
All this time that bullets were flying, the Slawsons' 2-year-old child was in a car nearby that one of them had driven to the scene.
Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene after Mason called 911. Mason told them that he had heard gunshots as Beth Slawson was moving toward him. He said he believed she may have been shooting at him, according to the court record.
Mason then said he saw Luke Slawson approaching with a gun in his hand, and he shot him once in the chest, court documents say.
"Cold blooded is what it's called," said a Slawson family member. Sarah added, "Killed my dad for no reason at all."
But Mason's family members say they believe Mason's claim of self defense.
"Yes, it was self defense," said Mason's sister, Fatina David-Mason. "Cory would never do something like that. He has the biggest heart."
Also at the court was the Slawson's 2-year-old son who was unhurt in the car just a few feet from where the shooting happened. He was being held by Slawson's mother Debra, "And he won't let go of me." Both the young son and teenage daughter are now staying with close family members.
Mason was arrested and booked into the Pierce County Jail, where he is now being held on $2 million bail.