Bail set at $2 million for man accused of murdering mother

Staff writerSeptember 24, 2013 

A judge found probable cause to order Tyler Lewis, 30, held on suspicion of first-degree murder and first-degree assault with a deadly weapon during a court hearing Tuesday.

A judge found probable cause to order Tyler Lewis, 30, held on suspicion of first-degree murder and first-degree assault with a deadly weapon during a court hearing Tuesday.

Lewis is accused of stabbing his mother, Frankie Austin, 59, to death in the garage of her Foxhall Drive home in the Hawks Prairie neighborhood Monday. According to court papers, Lewis has told detectives he stabbed his mother multiple times with a screwdriver "after a small argument with her."

Lewis said he then went to the Marvin Road home of a 67-year-old friend and former neighbor, and stabbed him multiple times, also with a screwdriver. Thurston County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Brady said Tuesday.

The 67-year-old victim, who uses a wheelchair to get around, was in critical condition on life support at Providence St. Peter Hospital Tuesday, Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cailen Cecil Wevodau said in court Tuesday. Wevodau identified the 67-year-old victim in court as Charles Simpson.

Lewis has told detectives "that he was being a good friend" to Simpson, "and helping him go to a better place so that he would not be suffering anymore," court papers state.

Simpson suffered a severed spinal cord from being stabbed in the neck Monday, as well as defensive wounds to his hands from trying to defend himself from the attack, court papers state. Simpson "will never be able to breathe voluntarily and will only be able to breathe with the assistance of a ventilation machine," due to his injuries from the attack, court papers state.

A woman who saw Simpson's pit bull wandering in and out of traffic on Marvin Road and got out of her car to lead the dog to safety discovered Simpson's body lying inside his home near his wheelchair Tuesday afternoon. The dog led her to the open doorway. Simpson was lying on the ground in a pool of blood, and she called 911.

Lewis' stepfather, who discovered Austin dead in the garage after returning to their Foxhall Drive home Monday afternoon, has Wevodau that he fears Lewis wanted to kill him on Monday, she said in court. Austin's other surviving family members also have told the prosecutor's office they would fear for their lives if Lewis was released from custody, she added.

Lewis was arrested about 4 p.m. Monday driving around in the Foxhall Drive neighborhood where his mother was found dead. He was taken into custody by Thurston County sheriff's deputies who were looking for him and pulled over his pickup after his deceased mother was discovered.

Thurston County Superior Court Pro Tem Judge Richard Strophy set Lewis' bail at $2 million during Tuesday's court hearing. Strophy said that Lewis will not be allowed to post his $2 million bail until after he has a "safe to be at large evaluation" that determines his release would not be a danger to himself or others. The evaluation will be conducted by a mental health professional in the next two weeks, Strophy said.

Lewis showed no visible emotion in court until Strophy asked Lewis whether he was considering hiring an attorney. "I haven't even been allowed a phone call, so I don't know at this time," Lewis said. Lewis was represented during Tuesday's court hearing by public defender James Shackleton.

Brady has said that during Lewis' interviews with detectives, he has shown very little emotion over his mother's death and his former neighbor's stabbing. Brady also confirmed that Lewis told them he killed his mother's corgi Monday. The dog was found dead of blunt force trauma in a compost bin at Austin's home.

Austin's family released a written statement on Tuesday through the prosecutor's office. "We the family of Frankie Austin are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our mother, grandmother and wife," reads the statement. "We are devastated beyond words."

 

 

 

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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