Criminal Justice

Listing 'jewelry thief' as occupation on court forms does not help defendant at bail hearing


Listing her occupation as “jewelry thief” on court papers was not a plus factor for Doris Payne on Wednesday as a lawyer for the 83-year-old tried to persuade a California judge to release her pending trial.

Noting the defendant’s admitted occupation, Superior Court Judge Richard A. Erwood kept Payne in jail in lieu of $65,000 bail and ordered her to stand trial in the Riverside County case, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) reports.

Defense attorney Gretchen von Helms told the newspaper she was disappointed by the ruling. “It’s not whether or not she’s guilty, it’s whether you’ll come back and face the music,” she said. “And Doris has a long history of coming back to face the music.”

The subject of a recent documentary, The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, the elderly defendant has a string of similar arrests throughout the U.S., the Times reports. She was last convicted in 2011, and released from prison last summer, for stealing two rings.

In her latest case, she is accused of posing as a customer at a jewelry store and walking out with a $22,500 ring. The owner of the store found it at a nearby pawn shop, where Payne had sold it for $800 and left a thumbprint, as required, on a store form.

Von Helms expressed concern after Wednesday’s hearing that Payne’s history might influence jurors at trial, even though it isn’t supposed to be in evidence.

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