UP man killed his mom but was driven by longtime abuse. How that affected his sentence

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A 24-year-old former Air Force Reserves member has been sentenced to more than a decade in prison for shooting his mother to death in a crime that prosecutors acknowledged was driven by life-long abuse he had suffered.

Corey Manley was sentenced late last month in Pierce County Superior Court to 10 years, three months in prison after pleading guilty in January to second-degree murder in the March 2021 shooting of 43-year-old Elizabeth Manley.

Corey Manley was a finance employee at Joint Base Lewis-McChord when he fired at his mother several times in their University Place apartment, court records show. He told authorities that his mother was intoxicated and berating him for not washing his hands and had thrown a popcorn tin and a box of cookies at him, according to the charging document in the case.

While sitting at his desk in his bedroom, Corey Manley pulled out a 9 mm handgun, pointed it at his mother and warned her not to come closer. When she did, he fired seven shots at her, the charging document shows.

Corey Manley called police immediately to report what he had done. He later told detectives that he was uncertain whether his mother had a knife or scissors in her bathrobe before the shooting but that she often kept those items close to her when sleeping.

None of those items were found on or near her, according to a June 2022 report detailing findings of a psychological evaluation conducted on Corey Manley. The evaluation did not support a mental health defense but noted underlying childhood trauma in his life, including finding a close family friend dead from a prescription drug overdose in the garage and witnessing his mother split open his father’s forehead by slamming a heavy door.

Corey Manley is shown in Pierce County Superior Court in March 2021.
Corey Manley is shown in Pierce County Superior Court in March 2021.

Drawing from interviews with Corey Manley and his older sister, the report indicated that their home was long marred by domestic disturbances between their parents and routine verbal abuse from Elizabeth Manley. Both parents struggled with substance abuse issues.

When she learned there had been a shooting at the apartment, Manley’s sister was concerned for her brother’s well-being and thought it had been her mother who “snapped” and carried out the crime, according to the evaluator’s report.

“That Mr. Manley fired his gun at her eight times suggests a discharge of long-suppressed animosity resulting from years of belittlement and other emotionally abusive treatment,” the report said.

Seven spent 9 mm shell casings were found in his bedroom, according to the charging document.

After initially charging Corey Manley with first-degree murder, the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office reduced the charge to second-degree murder in an amended filing in January, court records show.

“Many relatives and friends of the defendant reported the abusive behavior that the victim inflicted on the defendant throughout his life,” deputy prosecuting attorney Lisa Wagner wrote. “Although he does not have a diagnosed mental illness, it’s clear that his actions were driven by the abuse he suffered.”

Wagner recommended the low end of the standard sentencing range as part of the plea agreement, court records show.

Corey Manley had no prior criminal history, according to the amended filing.