Stacey Payne
Stacey Payne
Roy Lee Ward
Roy Lee Ward

Web Producer: Amber Griswold

Update Thursday: The Family's Reaction

The folks in Dale, Indiana are shocked by the news that a death row inmate will get a new trial for the brutal murder of 15-year-old Stacey Payne.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Roy Lee Ward's trial should have been venue out of Spencer County. Or the jurors should have been brought in, because of pretrial publicity prevented him from getting a fair trial.

Obviously, the Payne family is very disappointed with not only the Supreme Court's decision, but also the legal system in general. They say they are being victimized all over again, by a system set up to protect them.

The Payne family has met with the prosecutor. They told him if the state felt it was appropriate to seek death in the first trial, it's their feeling it should be appropriate in the second. They are also extremely frustrated, when from the very beginning the defense admitted he did it.

It's now in the hands of the prosecutor, who has some time to respond. He has to decided on what action the state will take and whether they will again seek the death penalty.

Newswatch spent the day with Stacy's aunt, and found out just how the family feels about this.

She worries for Stacy's younger sister, Melissa.  She was at home when her sister was brutally attacked, and was the one who called 911.

"For a 15-year-old to see the judicial system working like this, and to feel the devastation of Wednesday, and saying I went through this once and I have to do it again. Can I do it again, is hard. And can the family do it again? I don't know."

The family is facing old emotions that never completely left.

"There's the anger that only comes out to Roy Lee Ward and the question why did he do this to our child, why did he do this."

But with that comes additional anger the second time around.

"That the system cares more about him and values him more than the law abiding citizens, and put so much into raising a child that is good and he can take it, and we protect him."

"The huge hole that never completely heals is just gaping again."

New Trial Issued Wednesday

A Tri-State man sentenced to death for killing a Dale, Indiana teenager will get a new trial.

In a unanimous decision, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Roy Lee Ward's trial should not have taken place in Spencer County because of pre-trial publicity. The court says Ward's trial should have been moved or jurors should have been taken from another county. The court says that half the twelve jurors said before the trial that they believed Ward was guilty.

Defense Attorney Barbara Williams says the court's decision means the case against Ward will have to start from scratch with Ward being returned to Spencer County for arraignment. No dates have been set.

Ward was found guilty in 2002 on charges of murder, rape and criminal deviate conduct in the July 2001 death of Stacey Payne, a cheerleader and honor student. Defense attorneys say Ward admitted to killing Stacey, but did not rape her.
We talked to family members of Stacey Payne Wednesday afternoon. They tell us they are still in disbelief and just talked to the prosecutor Wednesday morning.
Payne's sister, Melissa, was upstairs when the attack happened and called 9-1-1. She has lobbied for and got a tougher law to keep offenders behind bars. It's called the Stacey Bill and makes public indecency a Class D Felony for repeat offenders, carrying a prison term of up the three years.