A man accused of strangling and beating another man to death near a Parkland restaurant was sentenced Friday.
Douglas Reid Murray, 43, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter for Thomas Fite’s death and to felony harassment in a separate case, as part of negotiations with prosecutors.
Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend sentenced him to 15 years in prison — a sentence above his standard range, which is what both the defense and prosecution recommended.
Charging papers give this account of the attack on Fite:
Deputies responded to a report of a body Sept. 15, 2016, in the 10600 block of Pacific Avenue South and found Fite deceased.
Transients in the area told investigators that they’d seen Fite, 41, with another homeless man the night before and that they’d last seen that man walking toward a nearby fast-food restaurant.
That’s where sheriff’s deputies found Murray, with blood on his clothing and face, rambling.
Some witnesses said they’d seen Fite drinking a beer with Murray the night before and that Murray had been acting strangely. He’d run up to the witnesses’ vehicle, and Fite had taken him away, saying he’d take care of it.
Defense attorney Laura Carnell told the court that Murray “has suffered for a long time with mental health issues,” and that he is doing well now.
Records show he was treated at Western State Hospital and released eight days before the homicide. He’d been found competent to stand trial in the felony harassment case, and a judge released him.
In that case, he had been accused of making threats to police officers when they responded to reports that he was throwing gas at passing vehicles in University Place.
Murray told Judge Arend on Friday that he’s remorseful and that he hopes to earn a master’s degree upon his release.
Deputy prosecutor Sven Nelson said Fite’s mother had been very involved with his office throughout the case, and that she recently passed away.