Sunday, November 18, 2012

Payne’s father told son to blame him for his bad childhood Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Forrest "John" Payne, Christopher Payne's father, listens to testimony in Payne's murder trial.

Forrest "John" Payne, Christopher Payne's father, listens to testimony in Payne's murder trial.


Christopher Payne’s father told a jury Friday that he told his son to build his double-murder defense around a bad childhood.

Forrest Payne, during cross examination by the county prosecutor, said he told his son during a jail visit about 10 days ago to “just put the blame on me for your childhood.”

On Wednesday, Forrest Payne told jurors how he began to drink heavily and neglected his two sons when Christopher was 8 weeks old and his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

Christopher was 14 months old when his mother died.

Last week a Pima County Superior Court jury convicted Payne, 30, of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his children, Tyler, 4, and Ariana, 3.

Payne could be sentenced to death by lethal injection, life in prison without parole or prison with parole possible after 35 years.

Closing arguments will begin Monday.

During mitigation testimony Friday aimed at creating sympathy for Payne, his father told the jury he didn’t get involved when his son lost interest in high school and began staying out until 3 in the morning. He said he bought his son a car, a Cadillac, at age 16 as “part of his inheritance.”

Defense attorney John O’Brien asked Forrest Payne if he ever asked his son what he was doing until 3 a.m.

“No sir,” Forrest Payne replied. “He was old enough to make up his own mind who his friends are.”

In 2002, Forrest Payne and his new wife Patricia moved to Virginia. He said he didn’t keep up with Christopher because he had his own marriage to look after.

“It wasn’t my place to see if he had food on the table. No, I didn’t monitor my (adult) children,” he said.

Forrest Payne moved back to Tucson after his son was charged with the murders. He said he visits his son in jail weekly – the maximum time allowed – and talks to him by phone.

A video recording of one of those jail visits was played for the jury Friday by the prosecutor.

During an expletive-laden jail conversation, Payne shouted at his father, “Get your (expletive) act together” because he felt his father wasn’t “keeping up with the news” accounts of his case so he could tell his son what the media said about him.

“I’m sick of this (expletive),” he said. “You’re not the one they want to kill for something I didn’t do.”

He went on to blame the murder case on Arizona legislators who “want to make a name for themselves” by going after him for the children’s deaths.

He never mentioned Ariana and Tyler but repeatedly demanded that his son, Chris Jr., who is 3 now, be adopted by his stepsister so “I can see my son.”

The boy is in the state’s foster care system.

Chris Jr.’s mother, Reina Irene Gonzales, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for her role in the death of Ariana and Tyler in exchange for a 22-year prison sentence.

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

He said the children refused to eat and that he didn’t get help for them because he


didn’t want to get in trouble.

The Pima County attorney is seeking the death penalty because of the ages of the victims, the heinous manner in which they were killed and because Payne was an adult when he killed them.

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