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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Man to be retried for murder in Clay County

Friday, December 30, 2005

ROCKPORT, Ind. (AP) -- A man whose death sentence in the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl was overturned will be retried in Clay County.

Earlier, prosecutors and attorneys for Roy Lee Ward, 33, could not agree on which county should be the setting for the trial. A judge has yet to set the date.

A judge sentenced Ward to death after a Spencer County jury found him guilty of murder, rape and criminal deviate conduct in the July 2001 slaying of Stacey Payne in her home about 30 miles east of Evansville. The U.S. Supreme Court last month let stand a ruling overturning his conviction.

The Indiana Supreme Court ordered a new trial because pretrial publicity should have precluded a jury being drawn from the same county as the crime and that Circuit Judge Wayne Roell erred in denying a defense request for a change of venue.

Two weeks ago, Roell offered a list of Clay, Greene and Morgan counties as possible sources for a new jury pool and ordered the defense and prosecution teams each to eliminate one from the list by Wednesday.

Police arrested Ward in the Payne home after her sister awoke and phoned 911. Stacy Payne was found alive on the kitchen floor and rushed to a hospital, where she died of her injuries.

Defense attorneys have said that Ward is willing to plead guilty if the prosecutor withdraws the death penalty in exchange for life in prison.

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