Christopher Payne found guilty on all charges related to 2020 drive-by shooting that killed an unborn baby

Posted on 4/14/2023

Defendant: Christopher Payne

Christopher Payne, 27, of Columbus, was found guilty Thursday, April 13, of all 12 charges against him, including murder and attempted murder, related to a drive-by shooting in 2020 that injured a 15-year-old girl and killed her unborn baby.

A Franklin County jury agreed with prosecutors that Payne was the person who shot Ma’Tiya Bruster-Lewis, now 18, as she was walking with an acquaintance, Diarice Fitzgerald, now 34, on the night of Aug. 23, 2020, on the city’s northeast side. Bruster-Lewis, who was 35 weeks pregnant at the time, survived, but the baby, Asier Lewis, died following an emergency cesarean section. Payne fired at Fitzgerald but the shots struck Bruster-Lewis instead.

The person driving the vehicle testified at the four-day trial that Payne shot the gun that struck Bruster-Lewis. The driver said Payne fired the gun from the backseat.

The jury found Payne guilty on the following 12 counts:

  • Three counts of murder, with gun and drive-by specifications
  • One count of involuntary manslaughter, with gun and drive-by specifications
  • Two counts of attempted murder, with gun and drive-by specifications
  • Two counts of felonious assault, with gun and drive-by specifications
  • Two counts of having a weapon while under a disability
  • One count of carrying a concealed weapon
  • One count of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle

Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Carl Aveni will sentence Payne on May 5. Payne faces a minimum mandatory sentence of life in prison with the opportunity for parole after 26 years.

Kirk Shaw, an assistant prosecuting attorney with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, and Keith McGrath, senior assistant prosecutor, prosecuted the case.