Cornell Smith, the alleged killer of 22-year-old Rebecca Payne, was arraigned yesterday on first-degree murder charges in Suffolk Superior Court and ordered held without bail. Although the murder took place on May 20, 2008, Smith was not indicted until April of this year. He is currently serving a 12-year sentence at a federal prison on unrelated drug charges.
Rebecca’s parents, Nicholas and Virginia Payne, were also in court today and were visibly distraught after seeing Smith for the first time. According to prosecutor Ian Polumbaum, the murder occurred as a result of mistaken identity, as Smith had been involved in a fistfight a few days earlier with someone who resembled Payne. According to prosecutors, on the day of the murder, Smith arrived at her apartment around 2:30 a.m., climbed up a balcony, found his way into her apartment and shot her multiple times. Smith’s defense attorney argues that his client was himself a victim of mistaken identity and did not shoot Payne.
Neighbors reportedly heard screams and gunshots but did not call police. Her body was discovered only after neighbors saw that the door was open. Payne was a Northeastern University student and was nearing graduation at the time of her murder.
No bail for alleged killer in 2008 slaying of Northeastern student, Boston.com, June 18, 2012