BANNING, Calif. - A Banning man accused with his girlfriend of beating and killing her 2-year-old son must stand trial on second-degree murder and other charges, a judge ruled today. Andrew Lee Payne could face 15 years to life in prison if convicted of the murder count, as well as falsifying a prescription, possession of illegal drugs and misdemeanor child endangerment.
Following a two-hour preliminary hearing, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Helgesen ruled there was sufficient evidence to bound Payne over for trial and set a post-indictment arraignment for May 14.
The 24-year-old defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
A preliminary hearing for Payne's co-defendant, 23-year-old Davia Damanique James, is expected to conclude tomorrow.
James could face more than 25 years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder, willful cruelty to a child and a sentence-enhancing allegation of corporal injury to a child resulting in great bodily injury.
She's also being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
James's son died from severe head trauma on Nov. 11.
According to Banning police, officers were sent to the defendants' house at 1435 W. Hays St. to investigate a report of an injured child on Nov. 9.
Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham said investigators learned from doctors that the 2-year-old had suffered a compressed spine, punctured lung and other internal and external injuries.
"There was brain hemorrhaging from blunt force trauma," the prosecutor told City News Service shortly after the defendants were charged. "He was literally beaten to death."
He said the child remained in the house, drifting in and out of consciousness for two days before James requested an ambulance.
The tot was transported to San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning for treatment, but because of the acute nature of his injuries, he was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit at Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died two days later.