Man pleads guilty to fatal Tacoma hammer attack

A man who killed a 78-year-old Tacoma woman and her son with a hammer pleaded guilty Tuesday.

Nicholas Lane, 28, told the court he didn’t remember the attack that killed Joyce Coffel and 57-year-old Clifford Bennett. He agreed to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder as part of negotiations with prosecutors.

Sentencing will be Feb. 17 in Pierce County Superior Court.

The attack happened Sept. 8, 2015, at a house in the 5800 block of East I Street, where Coffel, Bennett and Lane’s mother lived.

According to charging papers:

Lane, who had been staying with his mother for a few days, appeared downstairs with a ball peen hammer in his hand.

He told his mother his head was messed up, and that he had just killed two people.

First responders were called, and found Bennett, who was physically disabled, on a bedroom floor with wounds to his face from the hammer.

Lane had hit him at least five or six times in the head, and medics weren’t able to save him.

They found Coffel in her recliner, with wounds near her eyes from the hammer.

She died from the wounds about six weeks later.

Lane was arrested in the backyard of the house, and told detectives he had been awake for three days using drugs.

His mother said he’d recently used methamphetamine and heroin.

Alexis Krell: