Substantial Probability Found at Eric Payne’s Preliminary Hearing

Eric Payne was ordered held on Wednesday after Judge Robert Morin found substantial probability that Payne aided in the murder of Charles Hicks.

Due to scheduling conflicts no witness was called to testify and Morin relied on witness testimonies, affidavits, and the transcript of co-defendant Terrance McNeal’s preliminary hearing when making his decision.

At McNeal’s preliminary hearing MPD Detective John Bolden testified that McNeal said Hicks had punched him in the face at a party and “wouldn’t leave him alone.”

The altercation made McNeal “angry” and he stabbed Hicks four times,” Bolden said McNeal told detectives.

According to court records, a warrant for Payne’s arrest was issued after police identified him as the man witnesses told police participated in the fatal fight. Those witnesses said the man’s name was “E” or “Eric.” Payne told police that some people refer to him as “E.”

According to charging documents in the case, at least two witnesses said Terrance McNeal told them that the night of the stabbing, Hicks knocked a drink out of McNeal’s hand, then attempted to search McNeal’s pockets. McNeal said “Eric” joined him in fighting Hicks and that “Eric” stabbed Hicks, one witness said. Another said McNeal said he had stabbed Hicks.

McNeal was arrested in connection with the case in August 2011 and pled innocent to a charge of second-degree murder while armed in February. He’s scheduled to stand trial in September.

At Wednesday’s hearing defense attorney, Michael O’Keefe argued that Payne did not realize there was a knife involved in the fight and had attempted to break up the fight.

Prosecutor Michael Liebman said that his statement was self-serving and therefore unlikely to be true.

Morin agreed with the government. “I think there is a substantial probability that what the defendant says he was trying to do is not true,” he said.

Payne is scheduled for a status hearing on Sept. 21.

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