A man who told authorities he killed a husband and wife on the Key Peninsula in self-defense was charged with two counts of second-degree murder Wednesday.
Cory Nathan Mason, 27, was arrested when sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting Saturday.
He’s accused of killing 25-year-old Beth Hamlin-Slawson and 35-year-old Lukas Slawson, of Vaughn during a dispute outside a home in the 5500 block of Whiteman Road.
Mason pleaded not guilty at arraignment, and Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set his bail at $2 million.
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Charging papers give this account of the shooting:
Mason and Hamlin-Slawson were upset with each other over a gun sale and a domestic-violence incident that allegedly involved Mason and Hamlin-Slawson’s sister.
Slawson, Hamlin-Slawson and Mason arrived about the same time at the Whiteman Road residence, where both Mason and the sister were living. Hamlin-Slawson got out of her car and used something that looked like a hammer to hit Mason’s vehicle.
Someone grabbed the hammer from her, and Mason drove about 50 feet away.
That’s when Slawson started shooting at a different vehicle on the property.
Meanwhile, Hamlin-Slawson and Mason argued, and at one point Mason shot her in the chest.
Slawson walked over, holding his gun, and asked if Mason had shot his wife.
Mason then shot him in the chest, too.
The husband and wife both died from their injuries.
Prosecutors said Mason called 911 after the shooting, and charging papers state that he immediately told responding officers that he fired in self-defense.
He said he heard gunshots as Hamlin-Slawson approached him and thought she might have been shooting at him, he reportedly told investigators. But he also said he hadn’t seen her with a gun or seen muzzle flashes from her direction.
Mason shot Slawson, he said, when he saw him approaching with a gun.
Surveillance video shows the beginning of the confrontation, but the images are difficult to make out after Mason moved the vehicle, due to the headlights, charging papers state.
Loved ones of the victims said outside court that the couple had gone to the home to protect Hamlin-Slawson’s sister, who they alleged Mason had beaten.
“He killed my dad for no reason,” said Slawson’s daughter, Sarah. She identified a small boy with the family as her baby brother. The family identified the 2-year-old as the boy investigators said was in the car the victims took to the scene.
Fatina David-Mason, who identified herself as Mason’s sister, also spoke with reporters following the arraignment.
She refuted the allegations of domestic violence and said the shootings didn’t make sense.
“Cory would never do something like that,” she said. “... He obviously feared for his life.”