6,105,000 pageviews


Friday, July 29, 2022

Raymond Clark: The Panhandler Arsonist

     Thirty-eight-year-old Raymond Sean Clark, a homeless panhandler, regularly loitered outside the 7-eleven store on the Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach California. Clark made a habit of annoying customers who patronized the convenience store by begging them for money and cigarettes. He had become an unwelcome fixture in the neighborhood. 

     At five in the afternoon of April 12, 2013, as Jerry Payne sat outside the 7-eleven store in his Toyota 4-Runner, the 62-year-old was approached by Clark who asked him for money. 

     When Mr. Payne refused to give Clark a handout the transient poured a bottle of gasoline into the SUV and tossed in a match. The vehicle and its occupant were immediately engulfed in flames. (The fire was so intense customers and employees in the convenience store had to escape through a back door.)

     After Good Samaritans pulled Mr. Payne out of the burning vehicle, paramedics rushed him to Torrance Memorial Hospital, a medical facility that specialized in burn patients. With third-degree burns on his chest and face the victim was in critical condition.

     Police officers arrested Raymond Clark around the corner from the fire. Charged with attempted murder, he was held in the Los Angeles Inmate Reception Center under $502,200 bail. When Mr. Payne died from his burns the prosecutor elevated the charge against Raymond Clark to murder.

     In April 2014, a year after the deadly assault, Jerry Payne's family filed a wrongful death suit against the 7-Eleven convenience store chain and the city of Long Beach. The plaintiffs based the civil action on the theory that the attack had been foreseeable therefore preventable. According to the plaintiffs, both the owner of the store and the police had known that Raymond Clark was aggressive and dangerous.

     Assistant City Attorney Monte H. Machit described Mr. Payne's death as an "absolute tragedy." However, he said, Long Beach could not be held accountable for every "random act of violence that took place in the city."

     In March 2015 the plaintiffs dropped the wrongful death suit against the city of Long Beach.

     Prosecutors, in September 2017, announced they would not seek the death penalty against Raymond Clark.  
     In January 2022 Mr. Clark pleaded guilty to murder and arson. The judge sentenced him to 25 years to life in prison.

No comments:

Post a Comment