Crime

Parkland man charged in hammer death of roommate

A Parkland man killed his roommate with more than 60 blows from a claw hammer and then went back to sleep, prosecutors charge in court documents.

Pierce County prosecutors on Wednesday charged Richard Blair, 44, with first-degree murder in the death of James Patrick Payne, 51.

Sheriff’s deputies found Payne’s body Saturday in the shed he and Blair rented in the 800 block of 97th Street South.

Blair allegedly woke up one of the residents he rented the shed from and told them he’d killed Payne. That resident walked Blair to a nearby homeless encampment while another called 911.

“The defendant asked for help burying the body and when they refused, the defendant suggested they dismember and burn the body,” charging papers state.

Blair told detectives Payne attacked him with a hammer while he was sleeping so he wrestled the hammer away and choked Payne before going back to sleep. Detectives found no evidence that Payne initiated the attack.

An autopsy showed Payne was hit more than 60 times with a hammer on his arms and head.

Blair has more than 16 prior felonies for assault, burglary and drug charges, records show.

Payne’s sister, Lisa Wells, said Payne recently got out of prison but was trying to turn his life around. He’d allegedly agreed to let Blair stay with him for a few days.

“He was trying to do something good for somebody and ended up becoming this guy’s victim,” Wells said.

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