Jury: Payne can be sentenced to deathby A.J. Flick on Mar. 19, 2009, under Local, Special
After about a half-hour of deliberating, jurors have decided that Christopher Mathew Payne is eligible for the death penalty.
Specifically, jurors found that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that:
• The victims, his children Ariana and Tyler Payne, were minors and the defendant was an adult at the time of their murders.
• There was more than one murder.
• The murders were especially cruel and heinous.
After a three-week trial, the jury Tuesday found Payne guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of child abuse and two counts of concealing a human body in the deaths of his two children in 2007.
The trial will now move into the mitigation phase in which defense attorneys will present testimony and evidence it hopes will sway jurors into voting for a life sentence, not death.
Jurors were dismissed for the day while attorneys discussed in chambers with Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields what jurors can be told in the mitigation phase.
The case was expected to resume Thursday morning.