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Richard Payne guilty of molesting girl, 5, at NorthTown Mall

A child molester faces life in prison after a Spokane jury convicted him Tuesday of touching a 5-year-old girl at a NorthTown Mall arcade.

Richard Payne, 56, showed little emotion as individual jurors announced three guilty verdicts in Judge Kathleen O’Connor’s courtroom. Payne molested the girl on two separate occasions at Bumpers arcade in June 2012. The jury also convicted him of exposing himself to the youngster.

The conviction classifies Payne as a “persistent offender” under Washington law, due to a previous child molestation conviction. The case stemmed from a 2001 incident at a Spokane store. 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 a registered sex offender at the time of that arrest.

Payne’s defense attorney, David Hearrean, told O’Connor of 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, ride a coin-operated machine.

Prosecutors said there was little doubt of Payne’s intentions. They asked jurors to focus on “the lust in (Payne’s) face.”

Payne will be sentenced in November.