Eric Jerome Payne Pleads Guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter for Role in 2011 Stabbing

Eric Jerome Payne pleaded guilty Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter for his role in the the June 2011 stabbing death of Charles Hicks.

Payne’s agreement is similar to a plea offer his codefendant, Terrence McNeal, accepted last year. McNeal, not Payne, was accused of stabbing Hicks; McNeal pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter while armed. He was sentenced in February to 12 and a half years in prison.

McNeal and his attorneys had contended Hicks reached into McNeal’s pockets when the two men crossed paths on the sidewalk. Thinking he was being robbed, McNeal stabbed Hicks eight times, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Leibman said. According to court records, some of the stab wounds were more than five inches deep.

Documents say that as McNeal was stabbing Hicks, Payne punched and kicked him.

Payne had originally faced first-degree murder charges in the case.

In February, he rejected an informal plea offer from prosecutors; Leibman said he would push for a sentence of around four years in prison – at the low end of sentencing guidelines, had Payne accepted.

Payne had been scheduled to go to trial on the original charges April 29. He’s now due to be sentenced July 19 at 11:30 a.m. before Judge Robert Morin.

Payne’s plea agreement is below:

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