Jury reaches verdict in 'Lil Dank' rape, kidnapping trial

Jury reaches verdict in 'Lil Dank' rape, kidnapping trial
Howard 'Lil Dank' Payton

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The jury reached a final verdict in the Howard "Lil Dank" Payton case Thursday afternoon.

Payton was found guilty of kidnapping and rape, on all three counts.

Payton was charged with one count of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

He will face 30 years for one count of kidnapping, and serve three consecutive life sentences for three counts of rape.

Day three of trial

The rape and kidnapping trial of Howard "Lil Dank" Payton continued into day three with the state resting its case on Wednesday.

The state continued questioning Crime Scene Technician Denise Ruple.

Ruple testified to the processing of evidence at the scene as well as fingerprints taken from the victims car.

During cross examination, Payton asked for a mistrial multiple times, citing DNA and evidence testified to was not relevant to this case.

"Judge, the defendant is trying to do this on purpose he is bringing up other cases and trying to confuse the jury and get this thrown out, it's a set up," Assistant District Attorney Doug Miller said.

Payton argued and continued to request a mistrial.

During the course of three days of testimony, Payton has managed to inform the jury of his past, including a murder case, multiple other rape and kidnapping cases, as well as weapon and drug charges he possessed along with being a convicted felon.

Judge Anthony Mozingo cleared the courtroom, had a discussion with both sides and they were told to move on.

Ruple was dismissed from the stand after a few hours of cross examination and a short rebuttal by the state.

The states next witness to be called was DNA Forensic Analyst Kathryn Rodgers.

"There is less than 1 in 999 trillion chances of having another match on DNA," Rodgers said.

Rodgers continued to testify of the evidence that she processed and to what she discovered, being full DNA profiles.

"The exclusion probability... 99.99 percent would be excluded from the mixture of DNA evidence recovered," Rodgers said.

The state also used a pair of expert witnesses, Bill Jones and George Schiro to testify on behalf of DNA evidence, as well as evidence submitted to the crime lab.

The state then called the victim to the stand. Per the request of the court, her name will not be used.

She described a night that was fun and exciting that turned into the worst night of her life.

"I pulled in and parked closest to the Grand theatre," the victim said. "I checked all my doors to be sure they were locked and I checked all my mirrors before getting out of the car."

She said there was normally a security guard around The Grand and Campus Edge Apartments but at this time there was not.

"By the time I pulled my keys out, opened the door and I saw a black man and he put something sharp to my throat and pushed me back in," said the victim.

"When he got on me in the car, he said where's the f-------- money, then he pushed me back in the car," said the victim. "He kept repeating where is the f-------- money."

She stated she offered to take him to a bank with her debit card.

"My plan was to run but that never happened," said the victim.

"I kept crying and begging for him to please let me go, he told me to quit complaining and just do it."

"He pulled me back over from the passenger side, then out of the car, and then forces me on my knees and forced me to (give him oral sex). He then pushed me on the car, and (started to rape me). Then he made me take off all my clothes off and get on the ground until he left."

According to the victim, "(the attacker) was taking my car back to the apartment complex and I was to wait before I got up."

"He told me that I had better not tell anybody or see it on the news cause he had my address and he would kill my family and me," said the victim.

During the testimony, Judge Mozingo stopped the trial and threw a pair of people seated near Payton out of the courtroom.

They were scolded for smirking and laughing through the victims testimony, and escorted out by Sheriff Danny Rigel and another deputy.

The victim was then met by her alleged attacker, as Payton began his cross examination.

He spent several minutes asking her facts about the night regarding clothes she was wearing as well as what happened.

Payton tendered the witness, and the state rested its case.

Payton then took to his side and called his first witness to the stand, former Hattiesburg Police Dept. Det. Casey Sims.

Sims is the last witness to testify Wednesday and the trial will continue Thursday morning.