Man pleads guilty, sentenced to two years in Airway Heights baseball-bat beating death

Two teens have been charged with second-degree murder after investigators say they beat a 53-year-old man to death when he asked them to be quiet early Friday morning in Airway Heights, according to court documents released on Monday. 

Officers arrived on scene early Friday morning to find two men laying on the ground covered in blood at an apartment complex on Hayford Road. One of the men, later identified as suspect Christian Palmer, was taken to the hospital for treatment. The other man, identified as Terry Toner, died on scene as a result of his injuries. Witnesses told investigators Toner was punched, kicked and struck several times with a baseball bat by Palmer and the other suspect, Brandon Pierce. 

Court records show Toner had called police earlier in the morning at around 1:50 a.m. to file a noise complaint against the occupants the neighboring apartment. An officer with the Airway Heights Police Department responded and resolved the complaint, according to documents. 

But the party continued. 

Witnesses say Palmer and Pierce were both drinking and began arguing about wanting to date the same girl. The argument spilled out into the breezeway of the apartment building, and that's when Toner came out of his apartment again and "got into a verbal altercation" with Pierce and Palmer. 

Witnesses say Palmer and Pierce began hitting and stomping on Toner, even when he was on the ground motionless. The brutal beating even caused one witness to vomit. The witness went around the corner and when she came back, Pierce was gone. 

Shortly after the beating, the witness says Pierce called her and told her to meet him in Spokane. She told him to come back to the scene and says he replied, "No, I'm not doing that." 

Detectives later found Pierce and took him into custody. According to court documents, Pierce confessed to punching and kicking Toner, but did not intend for him to die. 

The other suspect, Palmer, was interviewed after his medical treatment. Court records say Palmer was hit in the head during the physical altercation with Toner and told detectives he had no recollection of the fight. Palmer was booked into jail based on witness statements of his involvement. 

Both Pierce and Palmer have been charged with second-degree murder. 

Pierce has a criminal history and was recently released from custody for prior felony convictions. His bond was set at $1 million during hi first court appearance on Monday. 

Palmer, who appeared to cry at his first appearance, had six active misdemeanor warrants at the time of his arrest. Palmer's mother and grandma showed up to address the court on Monday and said Palmer is not violent and is currently taking classes to finish his high school diploma. 

Friends of the victim, Terry Toner, set up a fundraising page in his honor. 

"On Friday, August 25th our hearts broke when we heard the news that a senseless act took the life of Terry Toner," the page says. "Terry was an amazing father, husband, son, brother, uncle and friend. He made a friend with whoever he would meet and had a heart of gold. He is and will forever be deeply missed. We are hoping to raise this money to eleviate (sp) the financial stress that a loss like this will cause. We thank you from the bottoms of our hearts."

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