Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Judge allows statements by alleged killer

Citizen Staff Writer



Jurors will be allowed to hear statements Christopher Mathew Payne made shortly after his arrest in which he admitted that his two young children died in his care.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard S. Fields on Wednesday denied a defense motion to suppress the statements made over a five-hour period March 1, 2007.

If Payne is convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths, prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

Assistant Public Defenders John O’Brien and Rebecca McLean argued that the statements were involuntary and violated Payne’s right to legal counsel.

“Voluntariness is an easy call in this case,” Fields wrote in his ruling.

“Mr. Payne proved to be a strong-willed, intelligent negotiator with (detectives). He made demands; he tried to extract benefits via promises to ‘tell all.’

“He threatened to withhold,” Fields wrote.

“When one strategy did not work, he undertook others. While Mr. Payne may have been experiencing some discomfort in the form of withdrawal symptoms, his will was far from being overborne.

“His attempt to extract promises was the earmark of a negotiator from the school of hard knocks and the streets, not that of an eggshell defendant about to be pushed over the edge by unsolicited police promises,” Fields wrote.

As an example, Fields cited an exchange with a detective.

“I been scared,” Payne said, sniffling, according to a transcript. “This weighed on my conscience more than anything. Why do you think I opened up to this guy right here?

“It needed to come out,” Payne said.

Payne was arrested after the decomposing body of his daughter, Ariana Payne, 4, was found in a North Side storage locker Feb. 18, 2007. The body of his son Tyler, 5, has never been found. Police said they suspect the boy’s body was thrown in the trash and dumped in the Los Reales Landfill but the body was never found and he is presumed dead.

“Mr. Payne was willing and eager to talk to police, corrections officers, anyone who would listen to his perspective on why things happened the way they did,” including a corrections officer and Payne’s sister, Fields wrote.

Fields said detectives should have let everyone at the police station, where Payne was being questioned, know Payne had earlier asked about speaking to a lawyer.

Fields said he is sure Payne would have assured the detectives he wanted to talk. As Payne told a detective later, “Don’t need a lawyer, man. Let’s rock, dude!” according to the transcript.

Payne and his girlfriend, Reina Irene Gonzales, were told at the outset that police were conducting an investigation into the children’s’ welfare, Fields wrote.

Prosecutors said Payne kept the children in a closet and starved them to death.

Fields said Payne’s statements show that he “voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently” waived his right to counsel.

“All right,” Payne told detectives, “tell these guys I ain’t gonna answer no questions unless they hurry . . .”

“Not only does (Payne) indicate his willingness to speak, he demands that this occur before (the detective) is ready,” Fields wrote.

The detective had come to calm Payne down, not question him, Fields noted.

“Immediately after this occurred, (the detective) informed (Payne) of his Miranda rights and (Payne) at that time waived them,” Fields wrote.

“(Payne) initiated the discussion of the case,” Fields wrote. “Any later refusals to talk were really only manipulation attempts.”

Questionnaires are being given to 250 prospective jurors on Wednesday.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will then meet to discuss which prospective jurors will be brought in for direct questioning on Feb. 17.

Gonzales was also charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and may testify against Payne.

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

Search site | Terms of service