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Richard Payne convicted of child molestation, faces life sentence

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 8, 2013, 12:42 p.m.

Prosecutor: Record means mandatory life sentence

A convicted child molester was sent back to prison, likely for the rest of his life, by a Spokane jury Tuesday morning.

Richard Payne, 56, showed little emotion as individual jurors announced three guilty verdicts in Judge Kathleen O’Connor’s courtroom. Payne touched a 5-year-old girl inappropriately on two separate occasions at the “Bumpers” arcade in the NorthTown Mall in June 2012, and was also convicted Tuesday for exposing himself to the girl.

The conviction classifies Payne as a “persistent offender” under Washington law, due to a previous child molestation conviction stemming from an incident at a Spokane store in 2001. The state mandates a life sentence without parole for such offenders. Payne’s record also shows acts of indecency with minors dating back to the 1980s. He served a little more than four years in jail on the 2001 conviction and was listed as a level three sex offender by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office at the time of his arrest.

Payne’s defense attorney David Hearrean immediately announced to O’Connor his plans to appeal the verdict, saying he didn’t think his client received a fair trial. In closing arguments Monday, Hearrean argued the prosecution extrapolated too much from surveillance video in making accusations, saying his client’s actions could be explained by an enlarged prostate and his efforts to help two girls, the 5-year-old and an 11-year-old, in the video ride a coin-operated machine.

Prosecuting attorneys countered there was little doubt of Payne’s intentions, asking the jury to focus on “the lust in (Payne’s) face.”

Payne’s sentencing is scheduled for late November.

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