CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A perjury charge was filed Monday against a juror, who a judge said lied to him about visiting the scene of a killing and caused a mistrial in a murder trial last week.
Taniqra R. Payne, 31, was arrested Monday afternoon, said Sgt. Brian Humphreys with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. Perjury is a felony offense, he said, while Payne was waiting to be arraigned in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
Last Thursday, Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King asked prosecutors to investigate charging Payne, after declaring a mistrial in the trial of Tremaine Jackson. Prosecutors assigned the investigation to Kanawha deputies.
Jackson is charged with first-degree murder in a shooting death last December, near Littlepage Terrace, on Charleston’s West Side.
Payne took an oath to serve on the jury for the Jackson case on Aug. 30. Part of the instructions given to jurors then was “Do not make a private investigation of any kind in an effort to inform yourself concerning any fact …” according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
Jurors were beginning their third day of deliberations last week when the judge told lawyers that Payne had been seen that morning where Brian Rogers was shot.
Rogers’ father was nearby, saw Payne, and took a photograph of her, the judge said. The judge was told that Payne was parked on the sidewalk in front of the funeral home and was seen pointing toward security cameras in the alley that had been discussed during trial, the complaint states.
Payne was brought into the courtroom and sworn in to give truthful testimony. She initially told the court she had not been at the scene of the killing, but upon further questioning, she said she had driven by the scene and had spoken with someone she knew, according to the complaint. She then said she parked at a nearby Rite Aid but had not been in the alley, did not point at any cameras, hadn’t been on her cellphone and did not conduct her own investigation, investigators wrote in the complaint.
“Now, can you explain to me what you’re doing at the alleged scene of a killing, where you’re sitting on the jury?” King asked, according to a transcript included in the complaint. “When you were told not to do that?”
“Uh-huh. Is that all you have to say?” King asked.
“You asked me what I was doing. I said I wasn’t doing anything,” Payne responded.
The judge then called for the jury foreman, who said Payne had been late to deliberations that day, according to the complaint. Jurors were to start deliberating at 9:30 a.m., but Payne didn’t arrive until close to 10 a.m., the judge was told. The jury foreman said Payne told the other jurors that she’d been to the funeral home that morning and had looked at the security cameras. He said Payne told the jurors she had concerns about the evidence presented.
The jury foreman said Payne told the jurors she had to see it for herself and that the other jurors expressed to her that she’d violated the judge’s order, the complaint states.
Jackson’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Richard Holicker said he reluctantly moved for a mistrial.
A status conference in the case is set for Thursday.
Jackson allegedly shot Rogers over a $3,000 heroin debt. Jackson says he was not the shooter and that Charleston police coerced his video-taped confession.
Kanawha Magistrate Pete Lopez set Payne’s bail at $25,000. She is being held at South Central Regional Jail.