Man gets 22 years in slaying

Chip Smith received a 22-year prison sentence Friday from Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss for the August 2001 shooting death of Chris Payton in Golden Valley.

Smith could have received a sentence ranging from 10 to 22 years.

Smith asked Weiss for the maximum sentence in an unusual claim of innocence.

Weiss, who presided over both of Smith's trials, the first which resulted in a hung jury in March, said Smith's conviction Sept.

18 for second-degree murder was based upon a preponderance of the evidence.

Weiss speculated that Payton's slaying might have been a "drug execution."

Smith's attorney, Michael Hruby, had indicated that Smith would appeal the jury's second-degree murder conviction.

In a strange twist to the proceedings, Smith joined prosecuting attorney Lee Jantzen in requesting the maximum 22-year sentence, even as his lawyer argued for the minimum sentence.

"I want you to give me the whole 22 years and not a day less because I'm so sure (of my innocence)," Smith said to Weiss.

Smith gave condolences to the Payton family for the death of Payton for what Smith said was the third time.

He then said there was a fight between Payton and another man before Payton's death but that he was not obligated to talk about it.

"This is far from being over," said Smith.

"As far as restitution (to the Payton family) goes … you can just go ahead and make it $100,000, and we'll just call it even because they're not going to see a penny of it."

A hearing will be held within the next 60 days, during which time Smith could be required by the court to pay restitution to the Payton family.

Smith said he would like to sit down some day and talk with Ray Payton, Chris Payton's brother, and tell him what really happened.

Smith's sentence does not have the possibility of parole, Jantzen said afterward when asked by Payton's family outside the courthouse.

"There is great evidence that Mr.

Smith caused the death of Chris Payton … and some evidence (to the contrary)," Weiss said.

"I tend to believe the testimony of Ashley Holmes," who was the prosecution's lead witness and said she saw Smith shoot Payton at close range the night of Aug.

12-13, 2001.

"It seems to me there is a bigger picture," said Weiss, adding that Payton's death was "some sort of nature of a drug execution."

In conclusion, Weiss said, "Mr.

Smith is indeed a dangerous person," and he called Smith's killing of Payton a "cruel and heinous" crime.

Weiss noted that Smith drove by Payton's wrecked pickup the night of his death and didn't stop to give him aid.

In requesting the maximum 22-year sentence for Smith, Jantzen noted that Smith spent the entire decade of the 1990s incarcerated in California or Arizona prisons and was out of prison on parole only a short time before he shot Chris Payton.

After the sentence was rendered, Hruby asked Weiss that Payton's pickup remain under protection as evidence.

Jantzen objected to this request, however.

"The truck has been available for two years" and is "just going to waste," when it "can be used by the Payton family," Jantzen said.

"It's inappropriate to keep it any longer."

Hruby said the truck is the primary piece of physical evidence in this case.

Weiss said he would issue a temporary order that the truck be kept for 30 to 60 days, during which time Hruby will need to present him a specific request as to what can be gleaned from the truck by an investigator in the future.

"I'm not going to keep that truck forever," said Weiss.