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Man sentenced for role in ’95 hostage-taking

Greg Masse
Staff Writer

A New Mexico man was finally sentenced Monday for his role in a 1995 break-in, hostage-taking and standoff near Rifle.

Jesse Payne, of Santa Fe, N.M., now 23, pleaded guilty in Ninth District Court earlier this summer to aggravated robbery in the case. Ninth District Judge J.E. DeVilbiss sentenced Payne to 12 years in Colorado state prison.

Payne was half of a duo that went on a three-day, three-state crime spree in July 1995 that ended in a standoff with Garfield County sheriff’s deputies.

As a result of other convictions connected to the crime spree, Payne has been locked up in a New Mexico prison since he was 15 years old. The spree began in New Mexico before winding its way through Utah and into Colorado.

Payne, known inside his gang as “Snoopy,” was characterized as a follower when the incident occurred. He is thought not to have acted violently during the crime spree, unlike his confederate, Vincent Bass, 16.

Bass committed suicide during the July 19, 1995, incident after a standoff with police that lasted more than three hours. Payne,

Sentenced

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after going on the lam for three days, turned himself in in Santa Fe.

Payne will get credit for the prison time he’s served in New Mexico, allowing him to get out of prison in a little less than five years, when he’s 28. He also was ordered to pay more than $15,000 in restitution.

He agreed to a plea bargain offered by prosecutors that dropped three charges, leaving him to face just one charge of aggravated robbery with an armed confederate.

Payne, a member of the Eastside gang in Santa Fe, ran away from a New Mexico juvenile correctional facility on July 16, 1995. Then, joining up with fellow gang member Bass, the two started the crime spree that wound its way from New Mexico into the Salt Lake City area before the two turned east and headed for Colorado.

But they ran out of luck when they hit Garfield County. The invasion of Mike and Jennifer Rhoades’ Highlands East home on Garfield County Road 233 near Rifle would end in death for Bass and a few frantic days on the run, followed by years in prison, for Payne.

The two young outlaws held Jennifer and her children, Ross, then 7, and Heather, then 5, in the house, for about a half hour, but let them go when a Garfield County sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene. Mike Rhoades was not home at the time of the incident.

For the next three hours or so, Bass fired on deputies, but hit no one. Then, at around 1 p.m., Bass left the house and walked through a field carrying a handgun.

When deputies ordered him to surrender, Bass raised his gun and shot himself in the head.

It is not clear when Payne slipped away from the house, which remained surrounded for hours, but he was never found in Colorado. Instead, he turned himself in during the early-morning hours of July 21 at the Santa Fe Detention Center.

At Monday’s sentence hearing, DeVilbiss read parts of a statement written by Payne.

“I was a 15-year-old kid who was scared and confused,” Payne wrote. “I was wanted in another state and I was looking at five years. Five years is an eternity when you’re 15.”

Now, Payne wrote, he’s a man who “has taken responsibility for his life.”

DeVilbiss called Payne’s statement “as good a statement as I’ve ever seen.”

Jennifer Rhoades asked the court if she could speak directly to Payne. DeVilbiss consented.

Rhoades said she didn’t necessarily want to see Payne locked up for a long time. But she said he made some bad choices and he will have to pay for those choices. Rhoades also said it’s the choices he will have to make in the future, when he is released from jail, that now matter the most.

“It’s not going to be easy, because you set yourself up for a long road – a long road,” she said.

Deputy district attorney Trisha Lacey asked DeVilbiss to give Payne 16 years.

“They didn’t just break into one house, they broke into five in about three days,” she said.

But Payne’s defense attorney, Jonathan Shamis, said, “it’s important to state that at no point did (Payne) use a gun against anybody in any of these circumstances.”

After DeVilbiss heard from Payne’s father, who asked the court for leniency, Payne spoke on his own behalf.

“I was a 15-year-old when the crime was committed. Now I’m 23. I’ve worked very hard and I’ll continue to change,” he said. “I cannot emphasize enough the fact that I have changed.

“I’ll take full responsibility for what I’ve done and I apologize.”

DeVilbiss believed Payne, saying he was impressed with the young man’s statement and his changed attitude.

“You have done a remarkable amount of work in a tough environment and I wish you luck,” DeVilbiss said.

Payne will be transferred to the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections when he finishes serving his New Mexico sentence.

after going on the lam for three days, turned himself in in Santa Fe.

Payne will get credit for the prison time he’s served in New Mexico, allowing him to get out of prison in a little less than five years, when he’s 28. He also was ordered to pay more than $15,000 in restitution.

He agreed to a plea bargain offered by prosecutors that dropped three charges, leaving him to face just one charge of aggravated robbery with an armed confederate.

Payne, a member of the Eastside gang in Santa Fe, ran away from a New Mexico juvenile correctional facility on July 16, 1995. Then, joining up with fellow gang member Bass, the two started the crime spree that wound its way from New Mexico into the Salt Lake City area before the two turned east and headed for Colorado.

But they ran out of luck when they hit Garfield County. The invasion of Mike and Jennifer Rhoades’ Highlands East home on Garfield County Road 233 near Rifle would end in death for Bass and a few frantic days on the run, followed by years in prison, for Payne.

The two young outlaws held Jennifer and her children, Ross, then 7, and Heather, then 5, in the house, for about a half hour, but let them go when a Garfield County sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene. Mike Rhoades was not home at the time of the incident.

For the next three hours or so, Bass fired on deputies, but hit no one. Then, at around 1 p.m., Bass left the house and walked through a field carrying a handgun.

When deputies ordered him to surrender, Bass raised his gun and shot himself in the head.

It is not clear when Payne slipped away from the house, which remained surrounded for hours, but he was never found in Colorado. Instead, he turned himself in during the early-morning hours of July 21 at the Santa Fe Detention Center.

At Monday’s sentence hearing, DeVilbiss read parts of a statement written by Payne.

“I was a 15-year-old kid who was scared and confused,” Payne wrote. “I was wanted in another state and I was looking at five years. Five years is an eternity when you’re 15.”

Now, Payne wrote, he’s a man who “has taken responsibility for his life.”

DeVilbiss called Payne’s statement “as good a statement as I’ve ever seen.”

Jennifer Rhoades asked the court if she could speak directly to Payne. DeVilbiss consented.

Rhoades said she didn’t necessarily want to see Payne locked up for a long time. But she said he made some bad choices and he will have to pay for those choices. Rhoades also said it’s the choices he will have to make in the future, when he is released from jail, that now matter the most.

“It’s not going to be easy, because you set yourself up for a long road – a long road,” she said.

Deputy district attorney Trisha Lacey asked DeVilbiss to give Payne 16 years.

“They didn’t just break into one house, they broke into five in about three days,” she said.

But Payne’s defense attorney, Jonathan Shamis, said, “it’s important to state that at no point did (Payne) use a gun against anybody in any of these circumstances.”

After DeVilbiss heard from Payne’s father, who asked the court for leniency, Payne spoke on his own behalf.

“I was a 15-year-old when the crime was committed. Now I’m 23. I’ve worked very hard and I’ll continue to change,” he said. “I cannot emphasize enough the fact that I have changed.

“I’ll take full responsibility for what I’ve done and I apologize.”

DeVilbiss believed Payne, saying he was impressed with the young man’s statement and his changed attitude.

“You have done a remarkable amount of work in a tough environment and I wish you luck,” DeVilbiss said.

Payne will be transferred to the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections when he finishes serving his New Mexico sentence.


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