PAYTON JURY HAS THE CASE; TURNED OVER TO THEM AT 12:10
EDGAR CO.— Those awaiting news of the murder trial of young Terry Payton, 17, of Paris, are going to get it via post today instead of newsblast, as we don’t want to take a chance and be out of the courthouse long enough to produce a newsblast, just in case the verdict comes back quickly.
Terry Payton is the boy accused of stabbing his mother to death in their Paris housing apartment on June 23, 2011. He’s been held on two counts of First-Degree murder since that time, with the exception of one aborted attempt at home confinement with the Hubbards, whose weirdness precluded Payton from being free on bond posted on his behalf, as he had and still has NO ONE in the area as a friend or relative with whom he can reside. Payton has been offered plea agreements over the course of the ensuing 20 months, and refused to accept them. He was intent on a jury trial in order to reveal his side of the story, in which he’s claiming his actions arose out of self-defense, as, he claimed, his mother was telling him she was going to kill him for pouring her whiskey down the sink, the throwing her off him when she attacked him as he was doing it., Payton claims she was reaching for a chef’s knife kept in a particular and odd place in the upper cabinet when he reached out for a steak knife nearby and stabbed her multiple times. One wound punctured a lung artery and she bled to death internally in minutes.
Closing arguments took off this morning with prosecutor Mark Isaf painting a picture of Terry’s actions leading up to the killing of his mother Kathie Payton as “escalating” in the months previous, and he used random text messages between Terry and his friends as evidence of this—not entire conversations, just little caustic remarks that most 15-year-old kids will make against their parents, especially if that parent is a raging, violent alcoholic and pill-popper who on a couple of testified-to occasions, attacked HIM without reprisal. Nevertheless, this is Isaf’s argument, and he promoted it fully, especially in his final closing (the state gets two), when he ran a slideshow presentation of the texts, with the salient points highlighted, then after those featured the gruesome photos of Kathie’s autopsy and the stab wounds with what HE believed were texts that coincided with the stab wounds. After everything the jury had heard, however, this, too, seemed to fall flat. It didn’t help that appellate prosecutor Ed Parkinson was absent again today as yesterday; Isaf attempted to explain that there were “scheduling conflicts” that kept Ed out of the case these two days, but TEN DAYS had been scheduled for this trial as far back as October….so Ed should probably have either NOT showed up at all, or made sure he was going to be there the TEN DAYS (which they’ve only used up six of.)
The defense, represented by Bob McIntire of Danville, did an amazing job at closing, explaining some of the pieces that hadn’t been readily put together by the disparate bits of evidence entered into the case. He explained how Payton’s reluctance to call an ambulance or any other authority to help after he knew he’d stabbed his mother and she was dying wasn’t because he wanted her to die, but was because he was in shock…and he wandered around town trying to “figure out what to do” after her death not because he was trying to hide the crime, but because he was still in shock and it took him awhile to come to his senses in order to do what he must: go to authorities and turn himself in. McIntire used the analogy of Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane begging his father to avail him of his trials that he knew lay ahead, yet he didn’t shirk from his responsibility. Neither, McIntire said, did Terry, who knew he was going to have to turn himself in…he just needed time to get his head on straight and know that in speaking to authorities, he was going to have to tell them everything he’d done to his mother. The courtroom, ordinarily full of squeaking chairs and hacking coughs and sniffles, was amazingly quiet when McIntire delivered this analogy.
Lesser charges have been included in jury instructions, Second-Degree Murder, in which the jury must find that the state proved First-Degree Murder, but that there are mitigating circumstances. The state must have proven that 1–Terry killed his mother; 2–he knew his actions would cause her death; and 3–that causing her death was not justified. Upon proof of all three of those factors, the jury must then decide that for Second-Degree Murder, Terry believed circumstances existed that he had to use deadly force after being provoked by Kathie’s actions to a state of “passion” (which has been described as panic, not just ‘passion’), but that the belief was unreasonable.
We personally believe the state has not proven propositions 2 and 3—that Terry didn’t realize the action he was taking with the steak knife was going to bring about his mother’s death; and that the death was indeed justified, this having been shown by her repeated attacks on him, the threats she’d made against his well-being that involved knives (as in a statement she had made just months before about cutting off his legs with an electric knife while he slept) and that really only he and she knew where that particular large knife was being kept (it was indeed found where he told police it would be, undisturbed, as she hadn’t been able to reach it before being stabbed)…and by the fact that she was stating over and over as she advanced on him, “I’m gonna kill you, you little bastard.”
However, you never know with juries. The case was turned over to them at 12:10, and their lunch was brought in at 12:30. They’re probably still having lunch and not deliberating yet. When we get to that point, we’ll let you know.
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