Payne Found Guilty of Killing Dallas Officer | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Payne Found Guilty of Killing Dallas Officer

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    A Dallas County jury has found Charles Payne, 29, guilty of murder in the shooting death of Dallas police Senior Cpl. Norman Smith.

    Smith was killed while serving an arrest warrant for William Jobe at Payne's residence in January 2009.

    Payne said he fired through the door because he thought he was being robbed -- he said he didn't know there were police officers on the other side of the door.

    The verdict was handed down just after 2:15 p.m. Friday.

    Payne could have been convicted of capital murder had the jury determined that he knowingly and intentionally killed Smith. Jurors apparently determined that he was shooting to kill but believed that he wasn't aware he was shooting at officers.

    In Texas, someone can be convicted of capital murder if the defendant murders a peace officer or fireman acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty while knowing the victim is a peace officer or fireman.

    Prosecutors had sought a conviction of capital murder for Payne. If he had been convicted of capital murder, he would have faced life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

    "Unfortunately, the jury saw something very different, but we're not done," Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watson said. "Hopefully, they believe this person doesn't deserve to ever walk again as a free man."

    With the verdict, Payne now faces between five and 99 years in prison. The sentencing phase of the trial began Friday and will continue Saturday morning.

    Smith's widow, Dallas police Lt. Regina Smith, left the courtroom before the verdict was announced and did not return.

    Clinique Williams-Smith, the Smiths' daughter, spoke in court Friday in hopes of convincing the jury that Payne should spend the rest of his life in prison.

    "Our family will never be the same," she said. "My dad was my hero. He and my mom ... provided for me [and] protected me and my community."

    On Saturday, the defense will have a chance to put members of Payne's family on the stand to testify on his behalf during the sentencing phase.

    NBC DFW's Randy McIlwain and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

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