A second trial is getting under way today for man accused of strangling another man in San Francisco’s McLaren Park nearly 30 years ago, after the jury in his first trial deadlocked earlier this week on whether to convict him.
William Payne, 48, was arrested earlier this year for the killing of 41-year-old Nikolaus Crumbley, who was found dead at the intersection of John Shelley Drive and Mansell Street on Nov. 16, 1983, according to the district attorney’s office.
During an autopsy, a swab of Crumbley’s rectum indicated the presence of semen that was eventually matched to Payne in the state Department of Justice database in 2009.
Payne was arrested in January and underwent a trial that ended Tuesday when a San Francisco Superior Court jury deadlocked at 9-3 in favor of acquittal.
Prosecutors had alleged that Payne strangled Crumbley, a Texas resident who was in town on business, during a tryst in Crumbley’s car, which was later found pushed into Oakland’s Lake Merritt.
Payne testified during the trial that he had sex with Crumbley after meeting him at a bookstore, but did not learn of his death until days later, and did not contact authorities about the sexual encounter for fear of revealing his bisexuality to his religious family.
Payne’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, argued that sperm cells from another man were also found in Crumbley’s body, and that fingerprints on the car pushed into Lake Merritt did not match Payne’s.
“Mr. Payne’s murder trial is proof that, despite what we see on TV, the presence of DNA does not prove a person is guilty of a crime,” Maloof said. “In this case, it proved only that Mr. Payne and Mr. Crumbley had sex.”
District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement that “DNA evidence and independent corroborating testimony linked the defendant to the brutal rape and murder of Mr. Crumbley.”
The public defender’s office said motions in a new trial are scheduled to begin today, with opening statements scheduled for Oct. 22.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News