Sentencing Continues in Dallas Officer Shooting Trial

Saturday, Jun 11, 2011  |  Updated 10:11 PM CDT
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A Dallas county jury continues to deliberate the case of Charles Payne guilty of killing Sr. Corp. Norman Smith, after hearing emotional testimony.

Omar Villafranca, NBCDFW.com

A Dallas county jury continues to deliberate the case of Charles Payne guilty of killing Sr. Corp. Norman Smith, after hearing emotional testimony.

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Jury Convicts Man of Murder in Officer Slaying

Charles Payne faces between five and 99 years in prison for the slaying of Senior Cpl. Norman Smith.

Suspect Admits Firing Gun Unintentionally

The man facing a capital murder charge in the fatal shooting of a Dallas police officer, Charles Payne took the stand again today.
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The Dallas County that found Charles Payne guilty of murder in the shooting death of Dallas police Senior Cpl. Norman Smith began deliberating on his sentence late Saturday afternoon, but went home for the rest of the weekend. Deliberations will resume Monday at 8:30 a.m.

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

The jury found Payne guilty of murder on Friday and he faced between five and 99 years in prison for the slaying.

Payne, 29,  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.

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."

Payne's friends and family members took the stand Saturday.

His mother told the jury about how Payne helped her deal with her drug addiction and abusive men.

Prosecutors countered, saying Payne had been in trouble with police as a juvenile.

One of the most emotional moments Saturday came from one of Smith's fellow gang unit officers. He told the jury he thinks of Smith every day on the job.

"I can only strive to be as intelligent, as smart, as compassionate as Norm Smith, " said Senior Cpl. B. K. Nelson of the Dallas PD Gang Unit.

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

Testimony is complete and both the prosecution and defense presented closing arguments in the sentencing phase late Saturday afternoon. Now the jury must decide Payne's sentence.

Murder vs. Capital Murder

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.


NBC DFW's Frank Heinz, Lita Beck, Omar Villafranca, Randy McIlwain and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.
 


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