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Homeless convicts charged in hatchet attack

Wed., March 13, 2013, 6 p.m.

Two homeless convicts have been charged with the attacking a third homeless man with the blunt end of a hatchet, breaking the skull and vertebrae of a man who told investigators that he was attacked while trying to retrieve a plastic tarp.

John C. Hill, 54, and 48-year-old Dean L. Anders, who is a registered sex offender, both appeared today before Superior Court Judge James Triplet. He ordered Hill held on a $10,000 bond and Anders held on a $15,000 bond, both on the charge of first-degree assault.

The case began March 7 when Spokane police officers were summoned to People’s Park after a woman reported that her boyfriend, Richard Burt, had been assaulted.

Officers arrived and found Burt zipped up in his sleeping bag “moaning in pain. His face was covered in dried blood and he had multiple cuts and contusions and swelling on his face and head area,” Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mike Ricketts wrote in court records.

Burt was transported to a local hospital, where he was found to have a fractured skull and broken vertebrae. Officers also noted dozens of circular bruises consistent with being struck by the head of a roofing hammer, according to court records.

Burt told investigators that he walked to Hill’s campsite in the area of 5308 W. Greenwood to ask for a tarp that Hill previously had taken from him.

“He stated Hill came at him with a sharp pointed instrument like (an) ice pick or something similar and thrust it into his right side by his hip and then Anders hit him in the face several times with a hammer knocking him down on the ground,” Ricketts wrote. Hill later described the latter weapon as a hatchet, saying Anders used the blunt end to strike Burt.

Anders continued with the attack, Burt said, and he could only protect himself by covering his face with his arms. After the attack, Burt crawled and made it to his camp before his girlfriend called for help.

Anders told officers that Burt came into his tent with a knife and he only hit Burt with a stick several times in self-defense. Anders later changed his story, admitting that he hit Burt with a hammer that he later threw in the Spokane River, Ricketts wrote.

In court, defense attorney Derek Reid said his client has been homeless for more than three years since he was released from a 12-year stretch in prison and that he suffered from mental illness.

According to court records, Anders was convicted of first-degree child rape and child molestation. Burt was convicted in 2003 in Las Vegas for voluntary manslaughter. Hill has previous convictions for harassment-threats to kill and assault.

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