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Man charged with murder

A rural Verndale man is charged with second-degree murder after allegedly shooting his older brother.

James Norman Payne, 50, appeared in court Tuesday afternoon for an initial hearing on charges that he allegedly killed his older brother, Wilbur James Payne, 61. He faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

At Tuesdays hearing, bail for James Payne was set at $1 million without conditions, or $750,000 with conditions. Ryan Ries, of Wadena, was assigned as Paynes public defender.

Just after 10 a.m. Sunday, Wadena County Deputy Eric Sonnenburg responded to a 911 call. The caller said his brother Wilbur Payne had been shot, according to the Wadena County Sheriffs Department. When deputies arrived they found Wilbur Payne dead inside the home.

According to the court complaint:

When Sonnenburg first arrived at the property, James Payne exited the house wearing jeans and no shirt. Sonnenburg told Payne to walk to the squad car but the defendant went back in the house, according to court reports. Payne returned, wearing a shirt, and buttoned it up as he approached the squad car. Sonnenburg had Payne sit in the squad car. Payne told the deputy that his brother was in the house.

Deputies entered the house and saw Wilbur Payne on the living room floor in a pool of blood.

James Payne told Sonnenburg that he and his brother had gotten into an argument, according to court reports. Then, he asked Sonnenburg to retrieve his medications from the home. While alone in the squad car, Payne allegedly made several statements indicating that his brother got what he deserved, according to court reports. The statements were recorded on in-squad video camera equipment in the vehicle.

Payne directed law enforcement to the location of a specific gun that had blood on it, according to court reports. After a search warrant was executed, the gun was seized and sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehensions crime scene team arrived and collected evidence after a search warrant was executed Sunday afternoon. Wilbur Payne had a severe wound to the back of his head as well as a gunshot wound to the left side of his chest, according to court reports.

Several firearms were seized from the home and taken as evidence but no guns were located near the body of Wilbur Payne.

Verndale Police Department, Verndale first responders, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Tri-County Ambulance and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension assisted the Wadena County Sheriffs Department.

The last murder in Wadena County was 10 years ago in the city of Wadena when a man was convicted of killing his wife.

James Payne will appear in court Tuesday for a Rule 8 hearing where he can enter a plea or ask for additional hearings.