A San Francisco jury deliberated for nearly three days before declaring itself unable to reach a verdict in a case dating back to 1983.
William Payne, of San Francisco, was arrested in January of this year for allegedly strangling 41-year-old Nikolaus Crumbley (pictured right), who was found dead at the intersection of John Shelley Drive and Mansell Street in McLaren Park on Nov. 16, 1983, prosecutors said.
Crumbley, a resident of Killeen, Texas, had been staying in San Francisco and was seen prior to his death with another man at a local hotel, according to the arrest warrant affidavit for Payne.
He was found early the morning of Nov. 16, 1983, with his pants and underwear pulled down below his knees.
A swab of Crumbley’s rectum taken during his autopsy was tested by the San Francisco crime lab in 2004. The test found semen that was matched to Payne in the state Department of Justice’s DNA database in 2009, according to the affidavit.
A $5 million warrant was issued for Payne’s arrest, and Payne was taken into custody Monday at Walden House, a substance abuse and mental health treatment center where he was living at 890 Hayes St., police Inspector Joseph Toomey said at the time of the arrest.
According to Payne’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, Payne, a teen at the time of the alleged crime, is “a family man” with four children, including a 9-year-old and 15-year-old.
Maloff said Payne was initially questioned by investigators after Crumbley’s death and “cooperated with police and never fled San Francisco” in the 28-plus years since the killing.
But prosecutor Michael Swart noted that Payne might not have been able to flee because “he’s been in prison or county jail most of the time.”
Payne’s previous convictions include kidnapping for the purpose of sexual assault in 1986, robbery in 1992, DUI causing bodily injury in 1998, and assault causing great bodily injury in 2008, Swart said.
According to the Chron, “Maloof argued that the DNA was deteriorated and could have been left before the night Crumbley was killed. He argued that a witness saw two men dumping Crumbley’s rental car in Lake Merritt in Oakland a few hours after the murder, but the witness’ descriptions did not match Payne.”
According to a statement sent by the District Attorney’s office, “after deliberating for nearly three days, the jury came back unable to reach a unanimous verdict.”
At the time of Payne’s arrest, DA George Gascon said “This case shows that at times justice can be delayed but it cannot be denied.”
In yesterday’s statement, Gascon said “We are disappointed with the outcome and will be evaluating how to proceed with this case.”