Erie ex-teacher to get new hearing in 1975 slaying of student, 16

A gavel and books sitting on a table.

ERIE, Pa. (AP) – A former northwestern Pennsylvania high school teacher will be getting a new hearing on his conviction in the strangulation death of a student more than four decades ago.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week rejected an appeal by Erie County prosecutors of a lower court ruling that 82-year-old Raymond Payne should receive a new degree-of-guilt hearing.

District Attorney Jack Daneri told the Erie Times-News on Friday that he will argue that Payne is guilty of first-degree murder.

Payne pleaded guilty to a general count of murder in the 1975 strangulation death of 16-year-old Debbie Gama. He argued he was at most guilty of third-degree murder.

A 6-3 Superior Court decision ordered a new degree-of-guilt hearing, citing 2014 DNA tests indicating that his DNA didn’t match evidence found on the body.

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