PARIS, Ill. (WTHI) - A Paris, Ill teen accused of stabbing his mother to death in June 2011 was found guilty of Second Degree Murder Thursday evening, about five hours after jurors began deliberations.
Terry Payton, now 17, had been charged with First Degree Murder on allegations he stabbed his mother, Kathie Payton, to death in the family's home.
Prosecutors had argued Terry Payton was unjustified in taking his mother's life, and they pointed to blood and autopsy evidence that indicated Ms. Payton was not standing up when she was stabbed.
Payton's defense, however, argued that the teen had suffered years of abuse and that he was defending himself from his mother, who Payton testified seemed to be reaching for a large knife when he stabbed her.
In their closing statements Thursday morning, both sides told jurors to consider whether Payton was justified in stabbing his mother.
In his instructions to the jurors, Judge Steven Garst said the jury had three options: they could find Payton guilty of First Degree Murder, Not Guilty or guilty of Second Degree Murder. In the case of Second Degree Murder, jurors would have to find that Payton was not justified in the killing but that there was some other unique circumstance.
"Their decision, I think, really came down to whether his actions were reasonable," said defense attorney Robert McIntire. "It's a fair reading of the jury's verdict that they did not think they were reasonable, but they did think he believed he was acting in self-defense."
State's Attorney Mark Isaf said he was satisfied with the verdict.
"I certainly respect the jury's decision," Isaf said. "Today was the culmination of, basically, a family tragedy."
No sentencing hearing has yet been scheduled in the case. Isaf and McIntire said Payton could face sentences ranging from time on probation to 20 years in prison.
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