Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron found probable cause to bind Keegan Payne's case over to a grand jury

Facebook messages led detectives to teen charged in Middletown shooting

Keegan Payne, 19, is one of two charged with robbing and killing Stephan Cotter, 22, in what police describe as a drug deal gone bad. Payne is charged with murder and aggravated robbery, and a 16-year-old boy, who police say fired the fatal shot, is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

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Payne, who is being held on $1.25 million bond, was in Middletown Municipal Court today for a preliminary hearing.

Middletown Detective Jon Hoover testified that Facebook messages between Cotter and the 16-year-old defendant led them to that teen, and the investigation led to Payne.

Hoover said that, during questioning, Payne indicated the 16-year-old had been “bugging” him about doing the robbery, and he provided the gun. A man who was with Cotter said they were to meet up with the duo on Pearl Street to sell marijuana and Xanax.

“Keegan said he didn’t really want to do the robbery, but (the 16-year-old) was bugging him about it for about two weeks. He knew Keegan had a gun,” Hoover said.

He said he put the gun in the glove box on Dec. 8 for the 16-year-old to use.

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“He said he sat on the porch while (the co-defendant) got in the car,” Hoover said.

But the witness said the 16-year-old pulled a gun out of a backpack and there was a struggle, Hoover said. That witness said both the 16-year-old and Payne got into the back seat of the car and that Payne also put his hands on Cotter.

After the preliminary hearing, Judge James Sherron found sufficient evidence to bind the case over to a grand jury.

The 16-year-old co-defendant is scheduled to be in county juvenile court tomorrow.

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