“From start to finish, it was just wrong,” Payne Says at Sentencing for Charles Hicks Death

Charles Hicks, father of two and stepfather of two, was stabbed and killed on June 19, 2011. It was Father’s Day. On Friday, Eric Jerome Payne, who pleaded guilty in connection with the murder, said that he never meant to cause Hicks any harm.

“The altercation just happened so fast,” Payne said. “From start to finish, it was just wrong. I don’t want anyone to believe this was in retaliation for anything. My intentions were not to cause pain to another human being. That’s not in my character. I’d like to send my deepest apologies to [the Hicks family], and I ask for forgiveness.”

Payne pled guilty in April to voluntary manslaughter for his role in Hicks’ death. He is the second person convicted in the case; in February Terrence McNeal was sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed in the case.

Payne was sentenced Friday to four years in prison. Both men were sentenced by Judge Robert Morin.

Hicks died after being stabbed during an argument in the 2600 block of Douglass Road Southeast on June 19, 2011.

According to information included in Payne’s plea agreement, Payne, McNeal, Hicks and several other people were gathered in a parking lot on Douglass Road when McNeal and Hicks began to argue. After a few minutes, McNeal began beating Hicks with his hands, then drew a knife and stabbed him multiple times. Documents say Payne then joined the altercation by punching and kicking Hicks.

Payne, McNeal and three witnesses then fled the scene in a vehicle, prosecutors say.

An autopsy discovered a total of eight stab wounds to Hicks’ head, torso, abdomen and right thigh. Four of the wounds were over three inches deep, and the stab wounds to his abdomen were estimated to be five inches deep. Cut wounds were also found on Hicks’ scalp and there were blunt impact injuries to his face, court documents say.

Payne was not arrested for his role in Hicks’ death until June 2012; he told police his intentions were to separate McNeal and Hicks from fighting. Prosecutors believe otherwise.

“It is beyond estimation that the defendant did not know [Hicks] was being stabbed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Leibman said Friday at sentencing. “He directed his efforts by attacking Mr. Hicks.”

Payne was later indicted on a charge of first-degree murder while armed, but less than a week before trial he pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Hicks’ younger sister, Brenda Hicks, spoke at sentencing and said she was saddened by her brother’s death.

“A heinous crime was committed, and there was no humane attempt to save his life,” Brenda Hicks said.

Sentencing documents have been added to this post.

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