A Sacramento County jury convicted George Frederick Payne, then 44, of second-degree murder in the Feb. 28, 1985, shotgun slaying of Jeffrey Gerard Wright, a 17-year-old neighbor.
According to stories in The Bee, Payne claimed that the shooting at a Caselli Circle apartment complex in south Sacramento was an accident. Wright was found dead in a flower bed outside his apartment. Authorities said he had been shot in the head at point-blank range.
Witnesses testified that they saw a man resembling Payne leaving the scene carrying a pistol-grip shotgun in one hand and “whistling a happy tune.”
The defense claimed the gun went off accidentally when Wright, in a drunken stupor, lunged at Payne, who confronted some neighborhood “punks” with the shotgun in his hand.
The conviction in Wright’s slaying was Payne’s third second-degree murder conviction in 13 years. In 1974, Payne, who was also known as Faruq Shahid, was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in Oakland.
He was sentenced in 1987 to 17 years to life in prison for Wright’s slaying. His name does not appear in the online roster of current California State Prison inmates.