It’s been almost 44 years since Betty Ferguson’s daughter Debbie Gama was murdered. The 1975 death of the 16 year old has once again come to the forefront as courts have ordered a resentencing of the admitted killer. 42 years ago, Raymond Payne pleaded guilty to a general charge of murder.
“Whatever the law thinks is the right thing to,” said Ferguson. Payne was sentenced to life in prison without parole in part because fluids found on the teenage victim were believed to be Payne’s. Modern DNA tests show that wasn’t the case, so the PA Superior Court has ruled that the conviction will stand but the sentence must be reargued. His younger brother Edward Payne recollects his memories of the case.
“He was never charged with rape,” said Edward Payne. A third degree murder conviction could mean freedom for Payne since that crime has a maximum sentence of 40 years and he has already served 42.
A Pittsburgh law firm is representing Payne.