95-year-old Lafayette murder suspect Okey Payne to undergo competency evaluation

The 95-year-old man accused of shooting and killing a Lafayette assisted living facility employee is undergoing an evaluation after attorneys raised issues about his competency.

Okey Payne was charged with first-degree murder after deliberation in the death of Ricardo Medina-Rojas, as well as two counts of felony menacing.

Court records show that on April 26, attorneys filed a motion requesting that Payne’s competency be evaluated, and a judge ordered a mental health stay on the case until it can be determined if Payne is competent enough to assist in his own defense.

If Payne is found incompetent to proceed, he will continue to be held at a facility until he can either be restored to competency or a judge rules it is unlikely he will ever be fit to stand trial.

Payne does remain in custody without bond. He is set for a review hearing on May 26.

First-degree murder is a Class 1 felony that carries a mandatory life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole if Payne were to be convicted.

Police were called to Legacy Assisted Living, 225 Waneka Parkway, at 7:15 a.m. Feb. 3 for a reported shooting.

Officers responded, took Payne into custody and found a small handgun.

Medina-Rojas, a 44-year-old maintenance employee, was transported to Good Samaritan Medical Center and initially placed on life support, but he was pronounced dead that afternoon, according to the affidavit.

Police believe the shooting took place in the lobby and that Payne also pointed the gun at two other people in the building before he returned to his room, where he was later taken into custody.

According to an arrest affidavit, Payne used a walker and had trouble hearing and asked police to write questions for him, but was otherwise lucid and waived his right to an attorney before making a statement.

Payne told police in the interview that he believed staff of the Legacy, including Medina-Rojas, were working with his ex-wife to steal from him. Payne told police staff were stealing bills from his wallet and forging checks in his name.

Both Lafayette police and Adult Protective Services had previously investigated Payne’s complaints but found the allegations were unsubstantiated.

Payne said he waited for Medina-Rojas to check in and confronted him about the missing money. Payne told police Medina-Rojas “mumbled” something before Payne then shot Medina-Rojas in the head to stop “the thievery.”

Payne said staff had told him he was not allowed to have firearms on the property by rule, and said staff had taken his firearms — including a handgun and a rifle — from his room to store them in a storage shed at a separate address.

Payne did not say how he got a weapon into the building ahead of the shooting.

 

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