UPDATE: Jury gives Tucson dad death for killing his 2 kids

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UPDATE: March 31

TUCSON -- A Tucson jury says a man convicted in the deaths of his two young children should be put to death.

Jurors returned the verdict against Christopher Payne on Tuesday after less than five hours of deliberations. He faced the death penalty or life in prison without parole for at least 35 years for his first-degree murder convictions.

Payne's attorney, John O'Brien, told the jury on Monday that Payne was addicted to drugs and wasn't entirely responsible for starving his 4-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter to death.

County prosecutor Susan Eazer said Payne was not so impaired that he didn't know right from wrong because he adequately cared for his other 3-year-old son.

That child has since been placed in state foster care.

Information from: Tucson Citizen

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

March 17: Jury to decide if Tucson dad lives or dies

TUCSON -- The Tucson jury that convicted a father of first-degree murder will decide next whether he lives or dies.

The panel deliberated for three hours Tuesday before rendering its verdict against Christopher Matthew Payne, 30, in the deaths of his 3-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

The jury panel was expected to return Wednesday to decide whether Payne is qualified for the death penalty.

The panel will also hear from the defense as it pleads for Payne's life.

Jurors also convicted Payne of two counts of child abuse against his daughter and one count of child abuse against his son as well as two counts of concealing or abandoning a body.

Payne's trial lasted three weeks.

Information from: Tucson Citizen

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Feb. 25: Trial of dad accused of dumping daughter's body begins

TUCSON -- Opening statements are scheduled today in the Tucson trial of a father accused of killing his two young children.

Death penalty given to father

Matthew Payne, 30, is accused of killing and dumping his 4-year-old daughter, Ariana, in a Tucson storage locker.

The body of Payne's 5-year-old son, Tyler, has never been found.

Payne is also charged with two counts of child abuse and two counts of abandoning or stealing a dead body.

Police arrested Payne after Ariana's body was found last February. He was indicted in March.

Last summer, prosecutors said they intended to seek the death penalty.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)