- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - A state appellate court panel has ordered a Peoria judge to review whether a man was fit to stand trial for the killing of a woman in 2010.

Edjuan Payne, 45, was convicted in 2012 of killing Orvette Davis and leaving her infant grandchild in an alley.

The (Peoria) Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1DzggZ3) reports the appellate court took exception with how the Peoria judge ruled Payne was fit for trial. The court said the judge relied on the prosecutor and defense attorney saying a report stated Payne was fit, but that judges tend to review such evidence themselves.

Payne was at first deemed mentally unfit for trial, but a mental health expert later declared him fit.

Two judges on the court panel said the case should get a “retrospective fitness hearing,” meaning a judge would look at past evidence to see if Payne was fit for trial. A new hearing date has not been set for Payne.

A third panel member, Judge Mary McDade, said Payne’s conviction and life sentence should be thrown out, and that there should be a new trial and a new determination as to whether Payne is mentally fit.

“Nothing the trial court could do on remand looking backward nearly four years could provide ample assurance that Edjuan Payne was fit to stand trial in 2011,” McDale wrote.

Payne’s case had drawn attention statewide after it was revealed he had been part of an unpublicized program to cut inmates’ state sentences to weeks or days to free up prison space. He was released early on a criminal damage to property conviction.

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Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

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