BISBEE — A woman who a judge said injured her toddler when she decided to drive drunk around 100 miles per hour on Buffalo Soldier Trail last fall was sentenced Monday to three years in prison.
While Cochise County Superior Judge Timothy Dickerson commended Davonnte Payne for taking classes and getting counseling for her issues with drugs and alcohol, the judge said her actions on Oct. 3 of last year far outweighed any mitigating circumstances in her case.
“Defendant willfully placed her 3-year-old in danger, driving over 100 miles per hour,” Dickerson said at the start of Payne’s sentencing hearing. “The child was not properly secured.”
The judge also mentioned that the morning of the incident, a friend of Payne’s told her she was in no condition to drive, much less take her child with her.
“She let out an expletive and said it was her kid and she could do whatever she wanted,” Dickerson said.
The 27-year-old Payne was driving at excessive speeds when she lost control of her car, causing it to flip over our times and plummet down a steep hill off Buffalo Soldier Trail and State Highway 90, Sierra Vista Police said. Alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in the wreck, investigators said.
Cochise County Sheriff’s Deputy Alison Hadfield also was hurt as a result of the incident after she tried to render aid to Payne and the child, sheriff’s officials said at the time. She broke several bones when she fell at the crash scene, Sheriff Mark Dannels told the Herald/Review after the incident.
Payne had raced past Hadfield going west at Buffalo Soldier and Highway 90, sheriff’s officials said. Hadfield, who was going east, turned around and came upon the crash. She was injured when she tried to make her way down to the area where Payne’s mangled car ended up, Dannels said.
An accident reconstructionist with the Sierra Vista Police Department confirmed that Payne had been driving faster than 90 miles per hour, police officials said.
Payne and Hadfield were taken by ambulance to Canyon Vista Medical Center after the accident. Her toddler son, who was in the vehicle with Payne, was flown to a hospital in Tucson, authorities said. Payne surrendered to Sierra Vista police a day after the crash after she left the hospital, police officials said.
Payne was initially charged with aggravated assault, aggravated DUI, child abuse and endangerment. As part of her plea agreement, she was convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated driving under the influence.
She must serve at least 85 percent of her sentence and was given credit for serving 32 days in jail. For the second charge, she also will be placed on probation for 10 years, Dickerson said.
Before Dickerson announced the sentence, Payne’s attorney, Harley Kurlander, told the judge that if his client was sent to prison, it would damage her relationship with her son. The boy is in the custody of his father.
“The length of time she spends in prison will seriously impact her her relationship with her child,” Kurlander said.
As Kurlander spoke, Payne cried quietly in her seat.
But Dickerson said the seriousness of the offenses and the injuries suffered by the toddler merited prison time.
“Given the seriousness of the incident and injury to the child, it can’t just be probation,” the judge said. “This is a very young victim, a 3-year-old who doesn’t understand why he’s wearing this cast. He’s going to have to learn how to walk again.”
Payne nodded as the judge explained why she was going to prison.
The judge also mentioned the mitigating circumstances in the case, which amounted to several letters sent to the court on Payne’s behalf by family and friends who stated that she is a good mother and a good person.
When Dickerson asked Payne if she had anything to say, she apologized to the court and to her son.