Updated: 6/11 7:15 p.m.
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas man has been convicted for the murder of a Dallas Police officer, but it was not the conviction Dallas County prosecutors had hoped for.
Prosecutors had sought a capital murder conviction against 29-year-old Charles Payne for the 2009 shooting death of Dallas Police Senior Corporal Norm Smith.
Payne took the stand in his defense saying he was not aware Smith was an officer and shot in self defense.
The capital murder conviction would have qualified Payne for the death penalty, but when the judge read the verdict it was the lesser charge of murder. It was not what District Attorney Craig Watkins or Smith’s widow wanted to hear.
“Anytime someone shoots at a police officer and takes his life, we have responsibility to the citizens of Dallas to let them know theres certain things you cant do. Unfortunately in this case the jury made a decision, we have to live by that. This is just one phase of the trial,” Watkins told reporters.
Smith’s widow Regina was not in court for the verdict Friday afternoon. Watkins said she was at his office. During the punishment phase Saturday, Payne’s mother testified that she battled an addiction to crack cocaine for eight or nine years. She said she’s been clean for eight months.
Smith was a member of the department’s gang unit. A fellow officer testified Saturday how much the unit has missed him.
“I can only strive to be as intelligent, as smart, as compassionate as Norm Smith,” said Senior Corporal B.K. Nelson.
Payne faces between five to life in prison for the murder. The jury deliberated for about an hour Saturday before being dismissed. They will continue deliberations in the penalty phase on Monday at 8:30 a.m.
L.P. Phillips reports for 1080 KRLD