By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The 32-year-old man accused of strangling his girlfriend and trying to cover it up with a story of wrecking his truck after three assailants beat her on a logging road near Morton was ordered held on $500,000 bail yesterday.
Exactly what did happen between Corey R. Morgan and Brenda L. Bail remains mostly a mystery, but Morgan is charged with second-degree murder and Bail is dead after a night of drinking, according to his story.
Prosecutors say Morgan had been sentenced two days earlier for an incident of domestic violence from last fall when he punched her in the face.
Morgan was identified as a Randle resident by the sheriff’s office, but prosecutors indicate the two lived together south of Chehalis. He told law enforcement the 48-year-old was his fiancee and they’d been dating for a number of years.
“When interviewed, the defendant’s cousin, who was aware of the prior domestic violence case, said it was only a matter of time before the defendant did something like this,” prosecutors wrote in charging documents.
His version of events, which authorities have made clear they don’t entirely believe, begins with the couple drinking at the Market Street Pub in Chehalis until about 10 p.m. last Thursday.
He had a few drinks, she had more than five, he said.
According to charging documents filed yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, he said they left for Wendy’s to get food and dropped some off for her daughter at their home on Pier Road south of Chehalis. Bail’s daughter told law enforcement her mother never came inside the residence.
Morgan said at about 11 p.m., the couple headed out to drink more alcohol at their “special spot” on a logging road about 30 miles away, according to charging documents.
Fast forward to 1:30 a.m. when a resident who lives on state Route 508 not far from the start of the logging road calls 911 to say a man came on foot to her door saying he and his fiancee had been in a wreck and she wasn’t breathing.
Aid crews from Lewis County Fire District 4 responded, along with a Morton police officer, according to the sheriff’s office. They detected no pulse, began CPR and transported Bail by ambulance to Morton General Hospital, according to the sheriff’s office.
Bail was pronounced dead in the emergency room at 2:25 a.m.
Charging documents state that multiple law enforcement officers were dispatched at about 2:30 a.m. after word of the death.
Morgan was questioned.
His truck was found in a ditch along Forest Service Road 73 with minimal damage, although he’d said he’d been traveling at almost 70 mph while being pursued by a Dodge Neon, according to charging documents.
Charging documents state Morgan maintained the same general substance to his story, but there were multiple inconsistencies between interviews with various law enforcement officers.
According to the documents: Morgan said he noticed another vehicle followed them after they turned onto the logging road. He said when they reached their destination, Bail got out to urinate while stayed inside his truck.
He said the car came speeding up at them, made a wild spinout and came to a stop whereupon three males – including his former roommate – jumped out and began repeatedly striking Bail with a Maglight flashlight and a baton.
Morgan said he used his marital arts training to fend them off, even knocking his former roommate out cold.
He said he picked Bail up, put her in the vehicle, sped down the logging road but then crashed into the ditch and got stuck.
He said he’d been hit in the head with the flashlight; law enforcement described the injury on the back of his head as more like a scratch.
The former roommate voluntarily spoke with law enforcement on Friday night and indicated he had “absolutely no idea” what the defendant was talking about. He had no injuries, charging documents state.
The cause of Bail’s death, according to the Lewis County Coroner, was asphyxiation caused by manual strangulation. Blunt force trauma to her head contributed to her demise, according to Coroner Warren McLeod.
The report from the medical examiner noted it would have taken about four to six minutes of strangulation for the death to occur, charging documents state.
In court yesterday afternoon, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke asked for high bail, telling the judge it was a particularly violent homicide.
Morgan sat quietly beside defense attorney Bob Schroeter, with a half dozen individuals in the benches behind him.
Schroeter countered saying his client was a long term resident of the county with a “good” vocational history, commuting to Longview where he worked in an auto detailing shop for three years.
Judge Richard Brosey appointed Centralia attorney Don Blair to represent Morgan and scheduled his arraignment for Thursday morning.