The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 15, 2013

Defendant in 2012 Bonniewood fire on trial

By STACY MILLBERG - smillberg@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — A man on trial for aggravated arson and felony drug charges connected to the December 2012 fire at Bonniewood Allotment fired his attorney Thursday in court and is representing himself.

The trial began Tuesday morning in Eastern County Court in Judge Gary Yost’s courtroom. Tyler Payne, is on trial for charges of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, a second degree felony; illegal manufacture of drugs, a first degree felony; and aggravated arson, a first degree felony.

Payne was represented by attorney Jason Fairchild until he fired him Thursday morning during the trial. Payne has chosen to represent himself during the trial.

Payne was indicted on the charges following a lengthy investigation into a fire that destroyed an apartment at 3228 Altman Court on Dec. 8, 2012.

The trial was delayed Wednesday after Payne became ill after the trial resumed after lunch.

Ashtabula Police Department Det. William Felt was on the stand Thursday morning for Payne’s cross examination.

Payne attempted on several occasions to ask Felt why other parties were not charged in the incident. On every occasion, prosecuting attorney, Susan Thomas, objected with Yost sustaining the objection each time.

Payne asked Felt if fingerprints were taken off of the chemicals that were collected from the scene.

Felt said it is not part of protocol to collect fingerprints from a methamphetamine lab investigation and most of the evidence collected has significant smoke residue.

Felt also testified that the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation determines what crimes they want to spend the time and resources to analyze fingerprints and meth labs are not one of them.

Payne also asked Felt if it was possible that he was impulsive and jumped to conclusions in the case when filing charges.

Payne seemed to be having a difficult time forming the questions he wanted to ask and Felt was having a difficult time understanding him.

By the time the trial resumed after lunch, Payne had re-hired Fairchild to represent him.

The defense and prosecution gave closing arguments Thursday afternoon.

The jury will deliberate today until a verdict is reached.