Poplar Bluff man accused of murdering his grandpa out on bond

Brett Payne (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Office)
Brett Payne (Source: Butler County Sheriff's Office)

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - A Poplar Bluff man accused of murdering his grandpa is out on bond.

A judge agreed to reduce bond for Brett Payne from $250,000 to $62,500.

Payne posted bond on July 28.

He is accused of setting fire to his grandparents home in the 100 block of Mozart Lane in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 4.

Investigators said Payne's grandparents were asleep.

His grandmother made it out alive. His grandpa, Edward James, 66 died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Butler County Coroner.

Payne, 29, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Investigators said Payne was staying in the home with his grandparents.

According to court documents, the staff in the emergency room told authorities that Edward James had a cut on his forehead that appeared as if he had been hit on the head with an object.

An autopsy took place on June 7. The preliminary results indicate James died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Court documents show that when authorities arrived on scene, a man came out of the woods and was acting "strange" and kept passing out. The man was later identified as Payne and he was also taken to the hospital emergency room.

Authorities say Payne was later picked up from the ER by his mother. Officers later went to his mother's house and where Payne was taken into custody.

According to court documents, in an interview with authorities, Payne said he started drinking vodka at around 10 p.m. on Saturday. He said he passed out and when he woke up, he saw smoke in his room.

The documents go on to state Payne said he could feel the heat from the fire, so he went downstairs and got his grandmother and the two of them got out of the house.

After they got out, Payne said he went around to the basement door and was going to try to save his grandfather. He said once he was at the door, he could hear his grandfather beating on the door asking for help.

Payne told authorities the fire was so intense that he was not able to get the door open so he ran into the woods.

When asked why he ran into the woods, authorities said Payne told them he panicked and did not know what to do.

According to authorities, Payne kept saying things like, "I don't know" or "I don't remember."

As the fire marshal continued to investigate at the home, authorities said they found blood on the floor of the bedroom where Edward James was located, as well as blood on the sheets.

According to the fire marshal, there were four different locations in the home where a fire had intentionally been set and one location where a fire had been attempted.

In the court documents, the fire marshal said an intentional fire was set on all three levels of the home. She said she found two smoke detector bases that had been removed and the batteries were taken out. She said there were batteries next to one of the smoke detectors and when she put the battery inside of the detector, it worked properly.

During an interview with the fire marshal, Payne said he saw smoke and nothing else. The fire marshal told him the fire in his bedroom started on his bed and authorities say Payne corrected her and said it started on his computer desk.

When asked how he knew this, Payne told her he saw the flames.

He is scheduled to be back in court for a preliminary hearing on August 24.

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