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Men face life in prison in teen's beating death

TNS Regional News • Jan 7, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Two Franklin men who allegedly beat a 16-year-old Dayton boy to death now face life in prison, following a grand jury indictment for aggravated murder and robbery, rape and kidnapping in Warren County.

Michael A. Geldrich, 36, and Michael J. Watson, 39, of Franklin, were originally charged with aggravated robbery and murder after they allegedly beat Dione Payne with a table leg while he slept on a couch Dec. 1 at Geldrich’s Vernon Street residence.

A grand jury approved charges for first degree felony aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, rape, two counts of kidnapping and tampering with evidence, which is a third degree felony.

Prosecutor David Fornshell during a press conference on Monday revealed a third person, Adam Patrick, 30, of Franklin, who was not at the scene, was also indicted for complicity to commit aggravated robbery, in the drug deal gone bad.

Payne’s mother, Tamiko Payne, was trying to get a ride so she could attend Fornshell’s press conference but she wasn’t having much luck. She told the Journal-News she was satisfied with the indictments.

“I’m satisfied they got ‘em with the charges they got, even though they didn’t seek death penalty,” she said. “Life without parole is better than them getting off scott free.”

Fornshell did present it as a death penalty case, but the grand jury declined that option, likely because there is evidence Geldrich and Watson tried to perform CPR and dropped the boy off at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown after the two-to-three-hour beating, he said.

“It was a vicious attack on Mr. Payne and obviously warranted the aggravated murder charge,” Fornshell said. “Based upon Mr. Payne’s age we also believed the grand jury should consider whether this was one they wanted to add a death penalty specification on … We wanted to give them that option.”

Fornshell said a colleague of Payne’s contacted Patrick and Geldrich about Payne coming to Warren County to sell drugs. He said Geldrich allegedly became upset about the compensation he was to receive for allowing his house to be used as the drug exchange spot, so he and Patrick hatched a plan to rob Payne of his drugs and money.

Geldrich then reached out to Watson to be “the voice” in the room asking for drugs and money, so Payne wouldn’t know who was robbing him and the drug selling arrangement could continue.

Geldrich allegedly struck the boy with a table leg twice in the face and then knocked him to the ground and continued to assault him. Fornshell said Payne had “pretty significant injuries” all over his body. Geldrich allegedly told police they took heroin, cocaine and $250 from Payne.

The rape charge came in because the two older men allegedly searched Payne’s anal cavity for drugs, Fornshell said. The kidnapping charges were lodged because the men restrained the boy while assaulting him. The tampering with evidence charge comes in because Geldrich and Watson went back to the scene and cleaned up evidence of the attack, according to Fornshell.

The Dayton chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is calling the beating death a “hate crime,” but Franklin police have said evidence points to a drug deal gone bad.

Fornshell also said Monday there was no evidence to support the hate crime allegation.

“We know that these two men were Caucasian individuals and we know the victim was African American, but that in and of itself, the law doesn’t allow us to charge a hate crime because the defendant is one race and the victim is another race,” he said. “You have to have other evidence that the purpose of the crime was targeting him because he was African American. We did not uncover, at any point in time, any information that led us to believe or even suggested this was race motivated.”

Payne died at Miami Valley Hospital a day after the two men left him at the emergency room at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown.

Geldrich and Watson, if found guilty, will be sentenced to life without parole. Patrick is facing 11 years in prison.

Geldrich and Watson are being held in the Warren County Jail on $1 million bonds. They will be arraigned Wednesday.


By Denise G. Callahan - Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

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