TACOMA, WA – Today Richard Blair, 45, was sentenced to 41 years in prison for the murder of his roommate. A jury convicted Blair of 1st degree murder.
“Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Kevin Benton and John Cummings did great work on a brutal and inexplicable case,” said Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist.
On January 31, 2015, at approximately 12:54 p.m., Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to the 800 block of 97th Street South regarding a tenant being found dead. Deputies were led to a shed behind the residence where a white male was observed lying face down, obviously deceased. The victim had obvious injuries to the top and front of his head and his wrists had been cut. There was a claw hammer and a screwdriver next to his body.
Detectives interviewed the other residents and learned Blair and the victim, James Payne, were renting the shed behind the house. One of the residents reported that Blair woke him up that morning and said that he killed “Jimmy.” The residents say Blair asked for help burying the body and when they refused they say Blair suggested they dismember and burn the body. One of the residents called 911, and Blair was arrested at a homeless camp a short time later. Blair claimed he killed Payne in self-defense.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy and concluded Payne died of blunt force trauma, sharp force trauma, and neck compression. Payne had a depressed skull fracture on his left side, one fractured rib, and large cuts to his wrists and neck. Payne was struck more than 50 times including 10 to the head consistent with hammer blows.
For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265, [email protected].