Crime

Sex offender fatally shoved another man during fight in McNeil Island cafeteria, charges say

Gregory Eugene Coley Jr. appears in court

Gregory Eugene Coley Jr. appears in Pierce County Superior Court Jan. 4, 2019. He was ordered held for 72 hours while prosecutors made a charging decision. He pleaded not guilty Monday to second-degree murder.
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Gregory Eugene Coley Jr. appears in Pierce County Superior Court Jan. 4, 2019. He was ordered held for 72 hours while prosecutors made a charging decision. He pleaded not guilty Monday to second-degree murder.

A fight at the state’s center for sexually violent predators has left one man dead and another charged with murder.

Gregory Eugene Coley Jr., 39, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder at arraignment Monday in Pierce County Superior Court.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail at $1 million.

Prosecutors say Coley shoved Jerry Spicer on Wednesday, Jan. 2, in the cafeteria of the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island — where both men were committed.

That caused Spicer to hit his head on the tile floor, court records say.

The 63-year-old later died from his injuries at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Charging papers give this account of what happened:

Coley and Spicer exchanged words while they were working in the dining hall about 5:15 p.m.

Coley chest-bumped Spicer, then used both hands to shove him in the chest.

“The reckless shove knocked Spicer off his feet and sent him backward, causing him to fall hard to the tile floor,” deputy prosecutor Kawyne Lund wrote in the declaration for determination of probable cause. “Spicer hit the back of his head on the tile floor, causing substantial bodily harm.”

The state Department of Social and Health Services said Spicer was committed to the Special Commitment Center in 2005 from Grant County.

Coley was committed from Skagit County in 2002, the agency said.

Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.

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