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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man accused of murder after body found at homeless camp in Mead

Deputies have arrested a man on suspicion of murdering another man at a homeless camp in Mead.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to the camp in the 2300 block of East Farwell Road – near Northwood Middle School and the Newport Highway at about 10:40 p.m. Saturday.

According to the sheriff’s office, the caller, Robert J. Tolliver, 37, said he had discovered his friend was deceased, then waited at the roadway and walked deputies and firefighters to the camp.

There, deputies found a man lying partially on a couch inside a tent with significant head trauma, according to court records.

The victim was identified in court records as 41-year-old James H. Peterson, who had lived at the camp for about 10 months.

A witness told deputies that Peterson and Tolliver had been fighting recently because Peterson’s bike had gone missing.

Another witness told deputies Tolliver texted her multiple times Saturday, saying he had an emergency and needed help.

According to court records, Tolliver told the witness he and a friend had gone to Peterson’s camp to look for stolen bike parts. Tolliver told the witness he left the friend at Peterson’s camp after Tolliver found his missing bike parts.

Tolliver claimed his friend contacted him hours later, saying things had gotten out of hand and Peterson was dead, the witness told deputies.

Tolliver repeatedly told the witness, “You’re my alibi,” on Saturday night, according to court records. Tolliver also sent the witness a video in which he threatened to cut off Peterson’s thumb, according to court records.

Tolliver was arrested Sunday afternoon. In an interview, he allegedly told deputies he had been in a fight with Peterson over the stolen bike parts several months prior but had not been to Peterson’s camp in several months. Tolliver said he had planned to confront Peterson but backed out.

Tolliver was jailed in lieu of a $500,000 bond and faces a charge of first-degree murder. Peterson’s death remains under investigation. The sheriff’s office said anyone with information should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 with the reference number 10086228.