A man charged with fatally shooting his roommate and violating her remains before burying her body in a wooded area of Graham was convicted today.
Kelly Merz, 51, of Puyallup was found guilty of first-degree murder and sexually violating human remains in connection with the Sept. 11, 2011 death of 33-year-old Cori Lewis. He faces 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced April 20.
Lewis and a friend were renting a room in Merz’s apartment when he gave her an eviction notice. During an argument about the eviction, Merz tried unsuccessfully to break her neck and then shot her in the head.
Merz then took her body to a forested trail in Puyallup and was preparing to dig a grave when a passerby noticed scratches on his face and arms and reported his erratic behavior to Pierce County sheriff’s deputies.
Merz left the scene after speaking with a deputy and later returned to retrieve Lewis’ body. Prosecutors said neither the deputy nor the passerby saw the body because it was hidden 15 feet from the trail.
He then dug a shallow grave somewhere off 224th Street East in Graham, took Lewis’ clothes off and kissed her genitals before burying her.
Merz was arrested after his ex-wife alerted deputies that he had called her and confessed to killing his roommate.
During trial, Merz claimed he was not in his right mind when he killed Lewis but the jury felt otherwise after hearing about that he had tried to conceal the slaying by dumping bloody clothes in trash bins at multiple businesses.