Dione Payne had been so badly beaten that when his mother first saw him at the hospital on Dec. 1, she said it looked like he had “been in a boxing match.”
Tamiko Payne testified Tuesday in Warren County Common Pleas Court that she had to identify her battered 16-year-old son by the tattoos on his arms that had been a birthday present a few days before his death.
Tuesday marked the second day of Michael Watson’s aggravated murder trial. Watson, 40, is one of three Franklin men accused of beating the Dayton teen to death while attempting to rob him for drugs and money. Michael Geldrich, 36, of Franklin, took a plea deal and will serve 22 years to life in prison, and Adam Patrick, 30, of Franklin, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery for his part in the crime and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Watson, of Victoria Lane in Franklin, is also charged with two counts of kidnapping, tampering with evidence and rape for his part in the killing. He showed little emotion in the courtroom Tuesday when photos of the bloody and beaten Dione Payne were shown on a large screen to jurors, but later he wept beside his attorney during a morning break.
Tamiko Payne said she was unaware of her son’s involvement with drugs, stating he was a “straight A” student at Longfellow Alternative School in Dayton. She testified that she last saw Dione at their home on Nov. 30 before she went to work a double shift at an Arby’s restaurant.
“He said he was going to stay around the house,” Payne said, wiping away tears.
Payne said she became increasingly worried when her son did not return home the next day. She said she received a phone call the night of Dec. 1 from a man who said she need to go to Atrium because Dione had been hurt.
Middletown police were having a difficult time identifying Dione, whose lifeless body had been pushed into Atrium Medical Center’s emergency department in a wheelchair. When Tamiko Payne arrived at the hospital, she was met by officers who showed her photos of the tattoos that were on Dione’s arms and asked her if she could identify them.
“I told them he had tattoos, ‘self made’ … They were a birthday present a couple weeks before,” Payne recounted on the stand.
By the time Payne arrived at Atrium, Dione had already been transferred to Miami Valley Hospital so she left and went there.
Doctors who worked on Dione testified they were able to restart his heart in Middletown, but he never breathed on his own and had no brain activity. He was declared brain dead at Miami Valley, they said.
Tamiko Payne said she spent time with her son in his last moments.
“He was already dead. Had been beaten and there wasn’t anything else they could do … (I ) went ahead and pulled the plug on my son.”
Debbie Kalp, a nurse at Atrium, testified that she was on duty the night Dione Payne was brought into the hospital. She pointed to Watson in the courtroom as the man who wheeled the unresponsive teenager into the emergency department.
Jurors were also shown security camera footage of Watson rolling the wheelchair into the emergency department, then going back outside and getting into the black truck driven by Geldrich. The tape also showed Geldrich putting some items into a trash bin before pulling away.
Prosecutors say that during a robbery attempt, Geldrich and Watson both hit and kicked Dione Payne after duct-taping his hand and legs and putting a pillow case over his head. The two were looking for drugs and money the teen allegedly had when he was picked up by Geldrich and Patrick and brought to Franklin to sell drugs.
Geldrich, who lived at the Vernon Street residence where Dione Payne was beaten, will testify against Watson during this week’s trial as part of his plea deal. The trial could last through Friday, court officials said.
Defense attorney John Kaspar maintains there was not intent to kill Dione Payne and Watson is being overcharged for the crime of aggravated murder.
By Lauren Pack - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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