(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling and death penalty for a southern Indiana man.
The high court issued the ruling last week for Roy Lee Ward, who is on death row for the 2001 murder of Stacy Payne, of Dale.
Ward pleaded guilty to attacking the 15-year-old Payne, raping her, and using a pocket knife to cut her abdomen, throat and wrist.
Ward claimed he received ineffective counsel during the original trial as well as during his appeal and that Indiana's death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. The court unanimously rejected those arguments.
Ward has been on death row since 2002.
On the morning of July 11, 2001, 15-year-old Stacy Payne was at her home in Dale.
Also there was her younger sister Melissa who was asleep in her bedroom. Stacy was waiting to leave for work. Other members of the family had already left for their jobs.
Pretending that he was searching for a lost dog, Ward approached the Payne residence and convinced Stacy to allow him to enter the house.
Thereafter Melissa awoke to the sound of Stacy screaming. Going to the top of the stairs Melissa saw a man lying on top of Stacy holding her down. Melissa then ran to her parents' room and dialed 911. As she was talking on the telephone Melissa could hear her sister saying "please stop."
Shortly thereafter the Dale Town Marshall arrived and saw Ward standing in the doorway, covered with perspiration, and holding a knife. Drawing his service revolver, the Marshall ordered Ward to the ground. Ward complied saying, "I didn't do anything."
Ward was on probation for a Burglary in Missouri at the time of the crime and had a dozen prior convictions for Public Indecency/Indecent Exposure.
The Marshall then went to the kitchen and found Stacy lying on the floor, nude from the waist down, covered with blood, and her intestines exposed. Although conscious, Stacy could not speak.
She was taken immediately to the emergency room of the Deaconess-St. Joseph Hospital where doctors noted she had been bound with nylon twine, raped, beaten on the head with a 3-pound weight, slashed across her throat cutting her trachea and cut nearly in half across her midsection severing her spine. Efforts to save Stacy's life were unsuccessful.
A subsequent forensic examination revealed that Stacy suffered eighteen blunt force injuries, including injuries found within the vaginal vault.
Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge Robert Pigman sentenced Roy Lee Ward to death on June 8, 2007 for the rape and murder of Stacy.
Pigman set Ward's execution date for June 8, 2008 before sunrise. However, an automatic appeal follows death penalty convictions delayed the execution.
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