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Defense: Payne had dysfunctional childhood

Citizen Staff Writer



The defense’s main mitigation expert finally testified Tuesday amid continuing long-standing arguments between the state and defense about what he could say.

When forensic psychologist Thomas Reidy did take the stand, he didn’t unleash any surprises for anyone following the Christopher Mathew Payne capital murder trial.

Reidy testified that Payne, 30, was reared in a dysfunctional household around people with addictions and became a heroin addict.

“How can you be a good parent,” Reidy said, “if you are abusing drugs all day?”

Eventually, Payne hooked up with Reina Irene Gonzales, 24, who was raised in a similar situation, which led to a “toxic outcome” – the deaths of Ariana Payne, 3, and Tyler Payne, 4, in 2007.

“If we have two damaged individuals who come together, then the effect gets multiplied,” Reidy testified.

Reidy said it isn’t unusual for people in those situations not to know how abnormal their lives are.

“What we might consider abnormal, if you’re in a denial situation, you may not see anything wrong,”Reidy said.

Such people are also reluctant to seek help, he said.

Defense attorneys are presenting mitigation evidence – a disrupted childhood, addiction and a “toxic relationship” with Gonzales – in hopes of persuading jurors to choose a life sentence over death for Payne.

Payne was convicted March 17 of two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and two counts of hiding a dead body.

Gonzales pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and a 22-year prison sentence in exchange for testifying against Payne.

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