Fatal wreck

Alleged driver in Tacoma beer-theft wreck faces vehicular homicide charges

Staff writerAugust 1, 2013 

Raymond Lewis III

Raymond Lewis III appears in Superior Court where his bail was set at $350,000 in Tacoma, August 1, 2013. Lewis turned himself in Wednesday morning after he allegedly crashed a car while fleeing from a convenience store where he and his passengers stole several cases of beer. Walter Corey, 21, and James Paggeot, 22, both of Tacoma were killed in the crash.

JANET JENSEN — Staff photographer

Pierce County prosecutors expect to file felony charges Friday against a 19-year-old Tacoma man suspected of causing a car wreck that killed two other young men as they fled a convenience store from which they allegedly stole beer.

Raymond Joseph Lewis III made his first appearance Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court. He had a sling on his left arm.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered Lewis jailed in lieu of $350,000 bail, saying she had concerns about community safety should he be released.

Deputy prosecutor John Macejunas said his office is considering charging Lewis with two counts of vehicular homicide, failing to remain at the scene of a fatal wreck, second-degree robbery and attempting to elude police.

Police and prosecutors believe Lewis was at the wheel of a BMW that went out of control near East 64th and M streets early Wednesday. The car reportedly left East 64th Street and went airborne before landing in a construction zone.

James Paggeot, 22, and Walter Corey, 21, both of Tacoma, died after being thrown out of the car, police said.

Macejunas said the three men are suspected of stealing beer from a Chevron in the 7200 block of McKinley Avenue shortly before the crash and allegedly roughing up the clerk before hopping into a car parked outside.

“A chase ensued, with Mr. Lewis being the driver of the vehicle,” the deputy prosecutor said. “He lost control of the vehicle, launching with great force off of East 64th Street.”

Macejunas asked for bail of $500,000, saying the nature of the potential charges were such that a high bail was necessary.

Defense attorney Andrews asked for bail of $100,000.

Andrews argued Lewis is a longtime Pierce County resident with no prior criminal convictions. He pointed out that Lewis, who fled the scene before police arrived, turned himself in a few hours later.

“We do not believe that this is something, this alleged incident, that is likely to occur again,” the attorney said.

Lewis, Paggeot and Corey were friends on Facebook and might have worked together at a Puyallup restaurant.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

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