Crime

University Place man gets 25 years for fatal shooting of roommate

Abdullatif Qaasim describes the death of his son as “Shakespearean.”

A man killed by someone who was like a brother. Two families suffering.

“It’s a tragedy all the way around,” Qaasim said Thursday.

Cory Page, 32, was fatally shot at his University Place home in 2014, by his roommate. The man who pulled the trigger, 30-year-old Cory Lewis was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday for the death.

“I saw Mr. Lewis as my son,” Qaasim told The News Tribune, adding he feels for Lewis’s family.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin found Lewis guilty of second-degree murder and unlawful gun possession last month after a bench trial, which meant the judge, instead of a jury, heard the case.

The time he gave Lewis was in the middle of Lewis’s sentencing range, which was 23 years to 31 years, four months.

Deputy prosecutor Lori Kooiman asked for the high end of the range.

“To lose your life to someone who has posed as a friend is tragic,” she said in court. “... (Lewis) never expressed any remorse for killing him.”

Lewis’s attorney, John McNeish, asked for a sentence of 10 years. He said his client had been getting counseling, going to school and working at an auto repair shop before the shooting.

Loved ones told Nevin that Page was outspoken, opinionated and a loyal friend.

“If you were a friend, he embraced you as family,” said Page’s cousin, Donnell Whiten. “... No court sentence can justify his worst nightmare coming true.”

Qaasim told the court his son had been precocious since he was a child. Even as a toddler, he was articulate, his father said.

“If his opinion was different,” Qaasim said, “he wasn’t afraid to say so.”

He thinks of his son when he gets up each morning, he told Nevin.

“I miss getting calls from him,” he said. “I miss getting lunch with him. I miss the conversations that we had.

Lewis’s family, in asking the judge for leniency, said they were sorry for what had happened. Page had been part of their family, and the men had been like brothers, they said.

Velma Stewart, a family friend of Lewis, said: “I’m sure the Cory that we have can take some of the lessons the other Cory left him, and give those to other young men.”

When it was Lewis’s turn to speak, he said he was sorry, both to Page’s family and his own.

“He was my friend, period,” he said.

Lewis also told Nevin he felt he had to protect himself from an “unwarranted and unprovoked attack,” and that he was “sorry the court doesn’t see things how I see it.”

During the trial, Lewis contended the Dec. 7, 2014, shooting was in self-defense after Page became angry about clothing Lewis borrowed from him.

Several days later he called 911, and said he had come home to find Page dead. Later he failed a polygraph test, and detectives investigated further and he was arrested.

Before delivering Lewis’s sentence, Nevin described the case as “heartbreaking.”

“We have two young men trying to make their way in the world,” the judge said. “Two young men who faced significant challenges to do so ... addressing mental health issues, both going to school.”

They came from loving families, he said, one that lost a son forever and one that will lose a son to prison for many years.

“Violence, young men, and firearms equals tragedy,” he said. “Again.”

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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