Christopher Payne was sentenced to death by the State of Arizona for the murders of two children. According to court documents the body of four year old Ariana was found decomposing in a storage bin in a storage locker. The body of her three year old brother Tyler was never found. Their Father Christopher Payne would be charged and convicted in both murders and be sentenced to death.
Christopher Payne 2021 Information
ASPC Florence, Central Unit
PO Box 8200
CHRISTOPHER M. PAYNE 242196
Florence, AZ 85132
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|In January of 2002, Payne married Jamie Hallam. They had two children, Tyler, born in 2001 and Ariana, born in 2002. Shortly after Ariana was born, Payne and Jaime divorced and she got sole custody of the children. Jamie had been investigated by CPS for reports of meth use and domestic violence and in 2006, CPS agreed that the children be in Payne’s custody. At that time, Payne and his girlfriend Reina Gonzalez had an apartment together, and they were both heroin addicts. In February of 2007, there was a delinquent storage unit at a Tucson storage facility called U-Store-It, and the manager opened the unit and cleared the contents. There was a large Rubbermaid tub with a foul smell in the unit which the manager decided to throw in the dumpster. When she did, the lid opened and bugs flew out; there was a bag with liquid in it. The manager called police and they subsequently determined that the tub contained the remains of 4-year-old Ariana. The police investigation led to the arrests of both Payne and his girlfriend Reina. Initially, Reina told police she had no knowledge of the deaths. Reina eventually pled guilty to two counts of second degree murder and her testimony at trial revealed that Tyler and Ariana were severely abused, neglected, beaten, starved, and locked in the closet for long periods of time while she and Payne abused heroin. When Payne found Ariana lifeless one evening, and after failing to resuscitate her, he put Ariana in the closet and he and Reina went to abuse more heroin. In September of 2006, Chris paid a drug acquaintance to rent a storage unit where the remains of Ariana were ultimately found. Tyler’s remains were never found. Chris was sentenced to death for the two murders. Reina was sentenced to two consecutive 22 year terms.|
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Christopher Mathew Payne and his girlfriend, Reina Gonzales, starved and abused Payne’s children, Ariana, age 3, and Tyler, age 4, until they died.
¶ 3 Payne left Ariana and Tyler with Gonzales while he worked, first driving for a medical transportation company and later selling heroin. Gonzales called Payne at work several times a day to complain about the children, even purportedly threatening to kill them if Payne did not make them behave.
¶ 4 Payne began punishing Ariana and Tyler by locking them in a closet while he was away. By late June 2006, the children were kept in the closet permanently. Payne initially fed them sandwiches once a day, but after about a month, he stopped feeding them at all. Payne checked on the children perhaps once a day, but he did not bathe them or let them out to use the bathroom or get fresh air.
¶ 5 Sometime in August 2006, Payne discovered that Ariana had died. He nonetheless left her in the closet with Tyler, who was still alive. The next day, Payne stuffed Ariana’s body into a duffel bag, which he eventually put back in the closet with Tyler. Payne found Tyler dead approximately one week later.
¶ 6 In mid-September, Payne put the children’s bodies in a blue tote box, which he placed in a rented storage unit. After Payne failed to pay the rental fee, staff opened the unit. They found only the tote inside, which they said smelled “really bad,” so they threw it in a dumpster. A staff member became concerned about the smell and called the police two days later.
¶ 7 The police found Ariana’s partially decomposed body inside the tote. She had twelve broken ribs, a broken spine, and a broken shoulder. After finding Ariana’s body, the police did not search the dumpster further. The investigation led police to Payne and Gonzales, whom they located at a motel. The officers asked Payne to accompany them to the station to answer questions, but he refused to go without his attorney. They then arrested him on an unrelated warrant.
¶ 8 At the station, Christopher Payne confessed to not obtaining help for the children and allowing them to die in his care. Police never found Tyler’s body. In searching Payne’s former apartment, police found blood on the walls inside the closet, an opening in the closet wall stuffed with feces and human hair, and several patches of body fluids on the carpet.
¶ 9 The State charged Christopher Payne and Gonzales with first degree murder and other crimes. In exchange for testifying, the State allowed Gonzales to plead guilty to two counts of second degree murder, for which she was given concurrent 22–year prison sentences. The jury found Payne guilty of three counts of child abuse, two counts of concealing a dead body, and two counts of first degree murder. The jury also found three aggravating factors: especial cruelty, heinousness, or depravity, A.R.S. § 13–751(F)(6); multiple homicides, id. § 13–751(F)(8); and young age of the victims, id. § 13–751(F)(9). This automatic appeal followed the imposition of death sentences for the two murders.