Community supports teen convicted of murder

Published 06/20 2013 10:02PM

Updated 06/26 2013 03:26PM

PARIS -- An Edgar County teen convicted of stabbing and killing his mother is released from prison. Terry Payton was found guilty of second degree murder in February.

In March, Payton's attorney filed a motion for acquittal or a new trial. Payton's defense team says he was abused by his mother.

Hundreds of Payton's friends who raised money for his bond are rejoicing. Paige Preusse has their stories.

"She was out here yelling his name at the top of her lungs, the top of her lungs!"

Debbie Lawrence has frequent flashbacks of the ongoing violence she says was building between her neighbors, 16-year old Terry Payton and his mother, Kathie. Today the memories are magnified as she learns of Terry's release from jail.

"She was at that place where, if something didn't go her way, you would suffer the consequences."

Lawrence describes Terry's mother. She paints a picture of abuse that she says sent Terry over the edge.

"You'll get that key when I get home. You don't need that house for any reason."

Lawrence says she remembers the emotional toll her mistreatment took on Terry.

"He would shake. He came over to borrow a hammer one day and he was shaking and said his mom needed it. Then he would say he didn't have much time."

That same skittish boy is someone who many locals love.

"He was very polite, smiled and was always by himself. He was a loner. When I found out what happened, I couldn't believe it."

Lawrence says his mother's abusive behavior is what convinces her and almost an entire community to rally behind Terry.

"Alcohol is a drug and it's one of the worst. All the pills she was on, I just don't understand it. I started hearing the stories about how she was a mean drunk. One of my former employees would tell me because she used to deal with her as a bartender."

Though Terry's release from jail marks a temporary triumph for many, Lawrence still struggles with the thought she could have stopped things and perhaps even spared a life.

"It makes me grit my teeth, because, if I had known, I would have done something. Something would have been done."

Payton's bond is $100,000. He's due back in court Friday.

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