Mother calls 2-year-old son’s killer ‘evil’

Published: Friday, April 15, 2016 @ 3:57 PM
Updated: Friday, April 15, 2016 @ 6:32 PM

Plea deal in 2-year-old boy's death

Jacob Barker’s mother called Justin Payne, the killer of her 2-year-old son, “evil” during her statement at Payne’s sentencing hearing Friday.

Christina Smith told Payne “how evil of a human being” he was as Payne was sentenced to 16 years.

Payne, 27, of Miami Twp., pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter, endangering children and tampering with evidence before Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Skelton. Payne had earned 251 days of jail-time credit and will pay court costs when he is released from prison.

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“Every day is a horrible nightmare,” Smith said, tearing up as she said she’ll never be able to hear Jacob’s call her mama or kiss his cheeks, cuddle him or rock him to sleep.

“My son Jacob will never be able to go to school, graduate college, get married, and mostly, he will never be able to grow old,” she said.

The morning of Aug. 8, 2015, Payne called 911 to report his “girlfriend’s baby choked on a Pop Tart” and was having trouble breathing. Later, Payne changed his story that Jacob accidentally hit his head against an end table in an apartment on Woodman Park Drive in Dayton.

He succumbed to his injuries at Dayton Children’s Hospital, and investigators determined he died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Smith said that when medical staff disconnected Jacob from life support, she held onto him and repeatedly told him she would always love him.

“His last heartbeat was Aug. 9, 2015,” Smith told Payne. “I hope to God that day will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

Payne — who served 2½ years in prison for felony child endangering against for fracturing a baby girl’s skull and breaking her ribs in 2011 — turned to face Jacob’s family to apologize.

“It was a freak accident,” Payne said. “If I could take it back, I would. If I could take his place, I definitely would. … Now I’ve got to live with this for the next 16 years of my life. … I would ask you guys to forgive me, if you can.”

Skelton said he could see the grief in the courtroom from what he termed a tragedy for everyone.

“There’s no sentence, nothing that I can do, that anybody else can do to erase what happened,” the judge said, then adding. “I don’t know how you (get closure). I wish you all the best, all of you.”

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