Sentencing hearing set for murder case


A sentencing hearing has been set for a Seymour man involved in a shooting last year.

During the hearing at 10:15 a.m. Thursday at the Jackson County Judicial Center in Brownstown, William E. Baker, 62, will learn his sentence after he recently pleaded guilty to a Level 2 felony charge of voluntary manslaughter. A Level 2 felony is punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 17½ years.

The charge stems from an incident where Baker shot and killed his 33-year-old brother-in-law, Dustin Payne, in front of Payne’s four children in the parking lot of JayC Food Store on the west side of Seymour on March 10, 2019.

A Level 1 felony charge of murder will be dismissed as part of the plea deal. Murder carries a 45- to 65-year sentence.

At the time, Payne had been picking up his children, ages 7 to 12, from his ex-wife in a visitation exchange.

According to witnesses, Payne, his fiancée and the four children were leaving the parking lot when Payne asked his children whose car their mother had walked to after the exchange occurred.

Witnesses told police after Payne discovered his ex-wife was walking to a car occupied by his sister and Baker, he pulled back around, parked and took a photo.

Payne then got out of his Chevrolet Suburban and walked over to Baker’s parked car, police said.

Witnesses said Payne then tapped on Baker’s passenger-side window, where Baker was seated, and that Payne shoved Baker’s shoulder.

Police said video showed Payne walked back to his vehicle and that he was followed by his sister and his ex-wife. A verbal altercation then occurred between Payne’s sister and his fiancée after he instructed her to fight his sister.

There is no video of that fight, but audio from it was captured. Women can be heard arguing, and then 12 seconds later, one shot is fired, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Payne was hit in the upper-right quadrant by a single-shot .357 Magnum handgun that police recovered from Baker’s vehicle.

Baker told police Payne pushed him as the women began to argue, so he put his hand on his gun, which was at his waist, to discourage the situation from escalating. He said he pulled the gun out after Payne shoved him again, and then Payne shoved him a third time before Baker shot him.

Witnesses did not corroborate that claim in police interviews, but some of them said the two men were face to face shortly before the shooting. Some witnesses said Baker grabbed Payne’s shoulder and turned him around, according to court documents.

Witnesses told police Payne was not armed.

Baker later told investigators he didn’t mean to hurt Payne.

Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter will preside over the sentencing hearing.

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