PARIS, Ill. (WTHI) - A Paris, Ill. teen charged with murder took the stand Wednesday as testimony in his murder trial drew to a close.
Terry Payton, 17, is accused of stabbing his mother, Kathie Payton, to death in June 2011. Defense attorneys have argued Payton was defending himself, a claim the prosecution rejects.
Payton first took the stand early Wednesday morning. He testified that his mother began drinking alcohol more and more as he grew older and that her anger intensified.
"Her temper got exponentially worse as time went on," Payton testified.
Payton also said his mother often accused him of stealing large amounts of money from her safe, something he said he did not do. He also said that his mother often cursed at him and called him names.
When asked by his attorney, Payton said his mother kicked him out of their home several times, beginning when he was in middle school. Payton appeared to break down in sobs as he described his mother telling him to get out of her house.
Payton also testified that he remembered speaking with officials from the Department of Children and Family Services four to five times through the years.
Attorneys also asked Payton about text messages he sent to a friend in April 2011 in which he said of his mother "I'm going to kill her … I can't relax. I can't calm down." Payton said he sent the texts on a day when Ms. Payton had been yelling at him, but he said there was no physical confrontation between the two.
When asked by defense attorneys about the day of the stabbing, Payton gave similar statements to those recorded by police investigators in 2011. Payton said the day began with Ms. Payton yelling at Terry about failing to lock a door. He said the two later argued again about Ms. Payton's allegations that Terry stole money from her. He also testified that, when he attempted to pour out Ms. Payton's bottle of whiskey, Ms. Payton attacked him physically.
As in prior statements, Payton testified that he first pushed his mother to the ground several times, hitting her head against the floor. He also testified that Ms. Payton got back to her feet, cornered him in the kitchen and seemed to be reaching for a large chef's knife in a cabinet.
"I knew if I didn't do something, she'll kill me," Payton testified.
After the stabbing, Payton testified that he was shocked.
"My God, she's dead," Payton said, recounting his thoughts at the time. "I felt like somebody had just ripped my heart out."
Payton testified that he left the house to get fresh air, made several trips to Wal-Mart and eventually turned himself in to police that night.
In his cross-examination, state's Attorney Mark Isaf pressed Payton on details about the fight and stabbing, particularly about how many times Payton hit his mother's head on the floor and about how many times he stabbed her.
He also asked Payton about how he knew his mother was reaching for a chef's knife.
"She never has a weapon in her hands, right?" Isaf asked.
"No," Payton said.
Isaf also asked whether Payton tried to help his mother, call for an ambulance or called police immediately after the stabbing. Payton said "no."
During the cross-examination, Isaf also challenged Payton on a text message he sent to a friend hours after the stabbing. In that message, Payton described stabbing his mother after "mercilessly beating … her."
Wednesday afternoon, both the prosecution and defense rested. Their closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning.
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