Thursday, April 16, 2009

Payne trial: CPS worker saw no neglect, drug abuse on mother's part

By AJ Flick
By bringing the CPS worker in charge of the neglect claim against Jamie Hallam to the stand, the defense has proven a point it couldn't have intended to make: that Hallam was a fit parent.

One of the defense theories as to broken bones that Ariana Payne suffered was that they came before she and her brother came to live with their father.

Former CPS caseworker Cindy Graupmann testified that she saw Ariana and Tyler Payne twice over a five-month span and they appeared to be healthy and well-cared for.

In fact, she indicted on a case note that the second time she saw the children on a surprise visit, they were snuggled up with their grandfather.

Graupmann asked Hallam to do a test for illegal substances in October 2005, which proved she was clean.

On Feb. 14, 2006, Graupmann talked to Hallam's ex-husband, Chris Payne. Payne told Graupmann that he knew Hallam was cooperating with the CPS investgation and wasn't doing drugs, Graupmann testified.

But despite the fact that Hallam kept in touch with CPS and complied with the drug test, Graupmann told Payne Hallam wasn't cooperating and Graupmann still suspected illegal drug use.

The only thing mentioned in Graupmann's case notes on visits with Hallam that she based the fact on were sores on Hallam's face, which could have been acne, prosecutor Sue Eazer said.

Presumably, Graupmann was also talking to an anonymous source who said Hallam was using drugs, but the jury won't be hearing testimony about anonymous tips.

When Graupmann talked to Payne on Feb. 6, 2006, she suggested he seek custody of the children. At the time, Graupmann testified, she didn't know that Payne had had nothing to do with his children for the past three years and had been keeping them despite Hallam's attempts to get them back.

It wasn't until Graupmann talked to Hallam on Feb. 14, 2006, that she learned Payne had been a deadbeat dad, she testified.

On Feb. 17, 2005, Hallam called Graupmann, concerned that she couldn't reach Payne and that she wanted her children back. Hallam had feared that CPS had taken the children, which Graupmann assured her it had not.

"You didn't try to help her find the kids or tell her the defendant had moved to change custody, did you?" Eazer asked.

"I don't have that in my case note," Graupmann said.

"Do you think if you told her that might or might not be included in the case note?"

"I don't recall," said Graupmann, who worked for CPS from April 2004 to September 2008, when she retired.

"But you did note that you told her to drop?" Eazer said, meaning submit to a drug test.

"That's correct."

Graupmann's testimony was interrupted by the lunch break. She's expected back on the stand shortly after 1 p.m.

Graupmann admitted yesterday outside the courtroom that she had been making disparaging comments about Hallam on the Citizen's trial blog.

In addition, one of Payne's sisters also has been commenting.

In response, Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields ruled today that witnesses were being restricted in the courtroom and being told not to make comments about the case while the trial is going on.