Plea hearing takes unusual ‘twist’

WCH man backs out of guilty admission

By Ashley Bunton -

A Washington C.H. man who told the judge a friend “twisted his arm” to plead guilty to felony charges remains in jail this week.

David E. Payton, 28, of Peabody Ave., appeared in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Thursday to plead to charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and gross sexual imposition.

According to the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office, a 15-year-old minor was watching the demolition derby at the Fayette County Fair in 2015 when Payton sat down beside her and allegedly put his hands down the front of her pants. 

A negotiated, jointly-recommended plea agreement offer was presented to Payton. For his guilty plea, Payton would serve three years in prison on the two charges and be subject to five years of post-release control.

But toward the end of the plea, Payton told Judge Steven Beathard that a friend twisted his arm to get him to plead guilty to the charges.

Payton said that it was a friend of his who actually committed the crimes, but that that friend told Payton that if Payton didn’t admit to it, then his family would get hurt.

“He threatened my family. I’m just doing it to protect my family,” said Payton during the hearing Thursday.

Beathard picked up his pen and told Payton he would move forward with scheduling a trial for the case.

A woman in the back of the courtroom stood up and yelled at the judge, “Can I say something?”

Beathard told the woman to sit down, but she refused and yelled, “I want to tell you something!”

Beathard ordered Charlie Wise, court bailiff, to remove the woman from the courtroom and then called counsel to the bench. A trial date of Oct. 11 was agreed upon and is on the schedule.

Payton has several previous convictions.

According to court records, Payton was sentenced to three years in prison in July of 2008 after pleading guilty to two charges of aggravated arson and one charge of arson. In 2011 he plead guilty to charges of arson and breaking and entering and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

He was last released from prison July 20, 2015. The alleged incident of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor was reported to have occurred between July 25, 2015 and Aug. 8, 2015.

He remains incarcerated in the Fayette County Jail until trial and as of Thursday, had been imprisoned 116 days.
WCH man backs out of guilty admission

By Ashley Bunton

Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton

Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton