Court denies teacher's appeal in student's 1975 strangling

ERIE, Pa. — A former Pennsylvania high school teacher serving a life sentence for the 1975 strangulation death of a student has lost an appeal.

The Erie Times-News reports (http://bit.ly/2w7AcL9 ) the state Superior Court ruled new DNA evidence is not enough to reopen the case against 80-year-old Raymond Payne.

Payne was convicted of murdering 16-year-old Debbie Gama. He's serving his sentence at the state prison at Laurel Highlands.

According to evidence, Payne's DNA didn't match seminal material found on Gama. Payne claimed this proved he didn't rape her.

The court found that whether Payne raped Gama was irrelevant to whether he intentionally strangled her. The opinion, released last week, upheld Erie County Judge John Garhart's previous ruling.

Payne's lawyer, Anderson Bailey, could not be reached for a comment.

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Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com

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