95-year-old charged with murder in assisted living shooting

Elderly Colorado man allegedly gunned down maintenance worker at senior care facility after accusing him of stealing money.

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mug shot of Okey Payne
Okey Payne, a 95-year-old resident of an assisted living facility, is accused of shooting dead a maintenance worker
(Boulder County Sheriff's Office/AP)

A 95-year-old resident of an assisted living facility accused of shooting and killing a maintenance worker has been charged with first-degree murder.

The suspect, Okey Payne, appeared in court in Boulder on Wednesday to be advised of the charges filed against him. According to court records, Payne was also charged with two counts of menacing with a weapon in addition to the murder count.

Police have said Payne shot Ricardo Medina-Rojas in the head on Feb. 3 after confronting him about $200 he claimed Medina-Rojas had stolen after he arrived for work at Legacy Assisted Living in the city of Lafayette. Payne then waved his handgun at two people who tried to help Medina-Rojas, authorities said.

Payne only has partial hearing and had to read a live transcript of the court proceedings on a laptop in court. He spoke loudly at times as the judge heard another case and the judge told him not to read the transcript aloud when his case was called.

According to the affidavit, Payne told police that workers at the facility had been stealing from him since October 2019 and that he also confronted another man about $200 he said he noticed was missing from his wallet two days before the shooting.

During an interview in which investigators had to write down their questions, Payne recounted he was sitting in the lobby thinking about ways to get attention and stop the thefts when saw Medina-Rojas arriving for work and decided to shoot him, police said in the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Payne told investigators he also suspected that he was being drugged by staffers because of needle marks he found in his big toe and that his ex-wife was working with someone else to steal money from him. Investigators did not find any evidence of the claims of theft made by Payne, the document said.

Payne is represented by two public defenders, Kathryn Herold and William Bode, who are not allowed to comment on cases under the policy of the Office of the State Public Defender.

Payne has not been asked to enter a plea yet. A hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to put him on trial is scheduled for May 5.

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