A teenage boy faces about 10 years in prison for burning a homeless man in a dispute he told police was over stolen beer money.
John C. Palmer, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court, more than seven months after Peter H. Krueger walked into a downtown hospital with second-degree burns on his face and hands.
Palmer had been charged with first-degree attempted murder but pleaded to the assault charge after investigators determined he’d set a blanket on fire and thrown it on Krueger instead of burning Krueger directly as first suspected.
Krueger was sleeping near Sprague Avenue and Sheridan Street, east of downtown, when he awoke on fire May 4. Palmer told police he was angry at Krueger for taking his money instead of buying him alcohol.
Palmer faces 117 months in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 14, said Deputy Prosecutor Tony Hazel.
Documents show authorities first suspected Krueger’s girlfriend of the attack after he said he awoke and saw her pouring lighter fluid on him.
But Krueger also said he was drunk at the time. And five days later, a witness told Krueger it was Palmer who’d set him on fire, court papers show.
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