June 17 – The state Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of an Indiana man who was convicted of sexually exploiting several minors, including a Daviess County minor, by forcing them to send explicit photos and taking video of himself engaging in sex. performance with a minor.
Alex Ryan Payne, 34, of Tell City, was sentenced to 70 years in prison last year by Daviess Circuit Judge Lisa Jones.
Jurors found Payne guilty of six counts of using a minor in a sexual performance (victim under 16), one count of using a minor in a sexual performance (victim of under 18) and 12 counts of possession of material depicting sexual performance by a minor.
The case involved several minors who sent explicit photos of themselves to Payne, which was a factor in Payne’s 70-year sentencing.
A victim, who was 12 when Payne first contacted her on Facebook, testified that she was coerced into having sex with Payne and that he stalked her and tried to damage her relationship by posting explicit photos of her under fake accounts.
During sentencing, Jones called Payne a “predator” who tried to ruin the victim’s life after she refused to continue meeting with him.
One of the issues in Payne’s call was the search of one of his cell phones. Investigators had warrants to search Payne’s girlfriend’s Indiana home, her mother’s Owensboro home, and her vehicle, but the warrant did not cover the search of Payne himself.
When Indiana State Police detectives questioned Payne at his workplace, they asked him to hand over his cell phone, without telling him about the search warrant. Payne provided his phone and password, where sexually explicit images were found.
Payne claimed on appeal that the cell phone evidence should have been suppressed at trial because Payne claimed he did not voluntarily hand over his phone. Payne claimed he was coerced.
In the decision, which was released Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Shea Nickell wrote that the facts presented at trial were that the Indiana detectives who interviewed Payne were wearing civilian clothes, did not yell at Payne and did not draw their weapons or discuss the search warrant. At trial, one of the Indiana State Police detectives testified that he “just asked” for Payne’s phone and that Payne “willingly complied.”
Although Payne claimed on appeal that ISP detectives “insisted” on Payne handing over his phone, “Payne pointed to no recorded evidence to contradict the factual findings of the trial court,” Nickell wrote.
Voluntary deposition is an exception to the search warrant requirement, Nickell wrote.
Payne also argued that some of the counts of using a minor in a sexual performance (victim under 16) should have been executed simultaneously rather than consecutively, as four of the six counts involved the same victim.
Nickell wrote that state law requires that certain criminal sex offenses, including the use of a minor in a sexual performance, occur consecutively when there are two or more victims.
Payne argued that the judge should have told the jurors that they had the discretion to decide whether Payne’s sentences should be served consecutively or concurrently. But Nickell wrote that the law requiring consecutive sentences for certain sexual offenses prohibits discretion, so the six counts had to be served consecutively.
Payne is incarcerated at Northpoint Training Center, a medium-security prison in Burgin. He will be eligible for parole in 2039.