As a Calaveras County Superior Court clerk read out the guilty verdict on Monday afternoon for Dean Payne, a Copperopolis man accused of injuring two women on Lake Tulloch while under the influence of alcohol, Payne began to slump.
His female companion, who had accompanied him throughout the eight-day trial, openly wept.
The members of the jury, three women and nine men, individually confirmed the verdict, with some casting glares or upset squints at Payne before turning toward Judge Susan C. Harlan.
Payne did not appear to make any eye contact with the jurors, his head down toward the desk in front of him.
The final public day of the trial lasted less than 15 minutes before Payne was remanded to the custody of the Calaveras County Jail.
Payne’s attorney, Ken Foley, of San Andreas, protested the court’s recommendation to remand Payne as an unforeseen and surprise circumstance, noting Payne had to “do certain things” regarding his residence, his teenage children and as a business owner.
Deputy District Attorney Brad Jones contested Foley’s argument, and noted that the nature of Payne’s offenses should mandate his being remanded.
Payne then openly scoffed at Jones, shook his head and said “come on” before Foley glanced over to him.
According to the California Secretary of State Website, Payne was identified as the business owners for Payne Family Inc., a contracting company, D.P. Tile & Stone Inc., and Jen & Cody Inc. According to the website, each business has been suspended or forfeited by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to meet tax requirements.
Payne was charged with operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol causing great bodily injury and special allegations of inflicting great bodily injury and inflicting great bodily injury by causing a victim to become comatose,
Racheal Pringle, of Contra Costa, and Robin Tsai, of Walnut Creek, were injured after he crashed into an inner tube they were riding on with his 30-foot cigar boat on July 24, 2016.
The incident took place about 4:45 p.m. on a finger of Lake Tulloch south of the O’Byrnes Ferry Bridge near the Lakes Treatment Center on the Calaveras shoreline.
Payne faces about 13 years in prison and will be sentenced on March 26 at 1:30 p.m.
Jones said the victims’ family members will likely make statements during the sentencing hearing, and Harlan said Calaveras County Probation required about six weeks to determine a suggested sentence.
On Monday, the jury convened for deliberations at 9 a.m. following an more than two-hour deliberation session on Friday after closing arguments.
About 11 a.m., the jury returned to the courtroom in a closed session to review evidence and returned to their deliberations about 15 minutes later.
Following the reading of verdict, the jury members filed out of Courtroom 3 and Payne was slow to rise to his feet. He sat, dazed, for many moments before being chided to his feet by Foley.
The crux of Payne’s defense had been to avoid the compounding prison time associated with the four special allegations levied against him. Throughout the trial, Foley said he would not dispute that his client was boating under the influence (Payne was found to have a BAC of 0.238 about two hours after the accident), but that the responsibility for the collision, and the women’s subsequent injuries, should fall on the driver of the 22-foot ski boat towing the inner tube.
Foley told Harlan he planned to file a motion for a new trial because certain jury instructions had not been admitted, which could identify the other boat operator as culpable for the collision.
Jones said little during the hearing, but throughout the trial had emphasized that Payne’s intoxication, boating speed and lack of evasive maneuvers had made him responsible for the collision.
In the moments before he was remanded, Payne dropped a cell phone, watch, a metal trinket and a penny on the table in front of him. He turned toward the woman weeping in the courtroom and grimaced before mentioning his children to the bailiff behind him.
The woman called out to him one more time as he was led by the bailiff into jail holding.
The trial featured 20 witnesses, including law enforcement officials from the Calaveras and Tuolumne county sheriff’s offices, the occupants of two boats involved in the near-head-on collision, one severely injured, brain-damaged women, a Department of Justice criminalist, a private investigator and witnesses to both the accident and Payne's condition on the day of the accident.