Sunday, November 18, 2012

Payne’s father says he drank, neglected son




Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Ariana and Tyler Payne

Ariana and Tyler Payne

Christopher Payne’s father told a jury Wednesday he raised his son with toys and “a checkbook” after his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and never told the boy he loved him.

Forrest Payne was among several witnesses who testified Wednesday in Pima County Superior Court about Payne’s upbringing at a hearing that will help a jury determine whether Payne, from Tucson, is to be sentenced to life in prison or death.

The jury last week convicted Payne, 30, of first-degree murder in the deaths of his children, Tyler, 4, and Ariana, 3.

He held the children in a closet and starved them to death over about two months in 2006, according to testimony. The bodies were placed in a plastic bin in a storage locker.

If the jury decides against death, Payne could be sentenced to life with or without parole possible in 25 years.

The Pima County attorney is seeking death in the case because of the ages of the victims and the heinous manner in which they were killed.

Payne’s defense attorneys are presenting mitigating evidence to the jury in an effort to show Payne should not be put to death.

Payne sat quietly throughout his father’s testimony and the two did not make eye contact when his father returned to his seat in Judge Richard S. Fields’ courtroom.

Forrest Payne, who said he worked as an electrician for Tucson for more than 30 years, said Payne was his “third child.”

He said his wife miscarried after the birth of their first child, John, who was 10 when Christopher was born.

Payne said his wife spent about eight weeks in a hospital after collapsing when Christopher was 2 months old.

She was diagnosed with brain cancer and became a paraplegic, he said.

She was unable to care for Christopher and died when he was 14 months old.

“I was scared to feed him and I didn’t know how,” Forrest Payne said, as he broke down and wept.

After his wife died, he began drinking heavily, he said.

“It was a crazy time. I guess I couldn’t handle the pressure,” he said.

First an aunt and then five other women moved through the home over a period of three years. They kept house, cooked and cared for Christopher and his older brother, he said.

“I run ads in the paper to find people to help at home,” Forrest Payne said.

He told the jury that during this period, he worked full time but drank heavily every day to help him get to sleep “mostly.” He said he drank for years.

When Christopher was 3 years old, the father put him in day care, from about 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. while he worked Monday through Friday.

He said he didn’t hug or kiss the boy but bought him lots of toys.

To convince the jury Payne does not deserve to be put to death, defense attorneys introduced expert testimony that Payne was emotionally neglected and had little parental supervision.

The father’s testimony was an attempt to bolster that.

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