The pending criminal case against a 96-year-old alleged murderer hit a speed bump as a court determined he was incompetent to stand trial. Okey Payne is at a state hospital to restore him to competency, said the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, according KDVR. Police have reportedly said he appeared “lucid” when they arrested him for shooting and killing father-of-two Ricardo Medina-Rojas, 40, on Feb. 3.
The 96-year-old, a resident at Legacy Assisted Living in Lafayette, Colorado, shot and killed the man in the lobby and threatened people who tried to help the victim, authorities said. Payne allegedly waved the pistol around.
It was all over an apparently baseless theft claim. He asserted that $200 in his wallet went missing, police said. He also allegedly asserted that needle marks on his big toe meant facility staffers were drugging him. Payne allegedly told investigators that he shot the victim to teach staffers a lesson.
“He still has a gun in his hand!” a witness said in a 911 call, according to KDVR. “We all ran to the back of my work. He’s still sitting in the sunroom at work holding a gun. Okey said, “You’re next,’ and that’s why we ran.”
Investigators have said they did not find evidence to support Payne’s allegation that anyone — including Medina-Rojas or Payne’s ex-wife — stole from him since October 2019.
In explaining how a gun could get inside the facility, former part-owner of the management company Amy White-Tanabe said this is not a place where dementia patients go.
“It’s not a secured facility, meaning it’s not where folks with severe dementia go,” she told the outlet. “They can go in and out as much as they want. It’s like having an apartment.”
An officer at the scene reportedly described Payne as “clear headed” and “lucid,” and that he did not seem “confused or unable to comprehend questions.” The 96-year-old allegedly gave a detailed account of what happened.
A GoFundMe campaign to support Medina-Rojas’s family has raised $19,744 of a $50,000 goal as of Tuesday.
“He loved everybody and he is loved by everybody,” said the quote attributed to facility resident Stan Lozinski. “Anytime a resident had a problem with their home – whether it was changing a light bulb or something not working, he was there for them. He was a remarkable guy. He wouldn’t steal nothing from nobody! He’d rather give you something than take it. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone here.”
Matt Naham contributed to this report.
[Mugshot via Boulder County Sheriff’s Office]
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