Payne v. State

On Behalf of | May 17, 2019 | Firm News

Ind.Ct.App., 5/15/19, slip op. at
Convictions for burning down two covered bridges in Parke County, and attempting to burn down a third, AFFIRMED)

  • Despite the unanimous opinion of three experts that Payne was legally insane at the time he committed these acts, COA held that Payne’s demeanor evidence was sufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict of “guilty but mentally ill.” Payne executed a pre-meditated plan before the arsons, engaged in behavior to avoid detection during the arsons, and lied to police about his involvement after the arsons. A reasonable jury could conclude that Payne’s demeanor proved that he appreciated the wrongfulness of his conduct and therefore was not insane.
  • Payne’s mental illness did not render the statements he made to police “inadmissible per se.” COA held that Payne’s other arguments on appeal (including insufficient advisement of Miranda rights and coercive police interrogation tactics) were waived.
  • Trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Payne’s motion for change of venue. Argument on appeal that all potential jurors were implicitly biased against him was not supported by the record.
  • The first arson, the second arson, and the attempted arson, were three distinct episodes of criminal conduct because a full account of each crime could be given without referencing the other offenses.
  • Payne’s 90-year, maximum sentence was not inappropriate—despite his well-documented mental illness—in light of his criminal history and the destruction of “two historically significant bridges.”