Payne weighs appeal

Published 7:35 pm Monday, May 28, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news reporter
Victor Labaron Payne was sentenced to 21 years in prison by Circuit Court Judge Bradley Byrne Wednesday, but his new attorney said Friday Payne is considering an appeal.
In a March trial, Payne was found guilty of rape, second degree; sexual abuse, second degree; and enticing a minor for immoral purposes.
Byrne handed down the 21-year sentence in three parts. On the charge of rape, second degree, which is a Class B felony, Payne was sentenced to 180 months (15 years). On the charge of enticing a minor for immoral purposes, which is a Class C felony, Payne was sentenced to 60 months (five years). On charges of sexual abuse, second degree, which is a Class A misdemeanor, Payne was ordered to serve one year in the Escambia County Detention Center.
While incarcerated, Payne will have an opportunity to prepare for a second trial on similar charges filed against him by a second victim. A third case on similar charges is also pending.
A grand jury handed down an indictment against Payne charging him with rape, first and second degree; sexual abuse, first and second degree; and enticing a minor for immoral purposes following their spring 2007 session. The date for the trial in that case has not been set.
Since his first trial, Payne has since replaced attorney Armando Pitters with Brewton attorney Ernie White, who represented him at the sentencing hearing.
Nearly a dozen witnesses took the stand to give their opinion of Payne before Byrne could pass sentence.
During questioning from White, each witness was asked a series of questions ranging from the familiarity with Payne to their knowledge of his personal and professional reputation. Each witness was asked if a prison sentence was right for Payne and whether they believed he could abide by the rules and regulations of probation.
Answer to the questions concerning his personal and professional reputation ranged from good to exemplary.
When the choice between prison and probation was presented to one witness, she said she believed everyone deserves a second chance.
In cross examining witnesses, Reo Kirkland Jr., assistant district attorney for Escambia County, asked if any other teacher had breached the trust given to him at Escambia County Middle School.
As the victim in the case sat beside Kirkland in the courtroom, he addressed each witness with the same questions.
Each witness replied he or she was not. Kirkland then said he had no further questions of the witness.
Kirkland told the judge the case was not a case for probation and should be treated as such.

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