MOORHEAD — A woman who helped cover up the killing of her roommate more than a year ago in Moorhead will avoid prison time.

Andrea Catherine Payne, 27, was sentenced to five years of supervised probation for being an accomplice to second-degree intentional murder after the fact. She pleaded guilty to the charge, admitting that she lied to police when she knew her 19-year-old roommate, Dystynee Avery, was killed April 3, 2020, at their apartment, 1310 28th Ave. S.

Ethan Martin Broad, 28, is accused of killing and dismembering Avery. Broad, Avery and Payne lived together.

Payne was in the apartment when Broad and Avery were arguing in another room, according to a criminal complaint. She heard “several loud thumps or strikes" before Broad came out of the room and told her to leave, the complaint said.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Dystynee Avery
Dystynee Avery

Broad dragged Avery's body in a tote out to his garage and used saws to dismember her, a criminal complaint alleged. He then put her remains in a dumpster, the complaint said.

Investigators found Avery's remains in the Clay County landfill three weeks later.

Payne came back several hours later with David Marvin Erno, 23, of Moorhead. She acknowledged that Broad told her he killed Avery, but when police initially interviewed her, she told them Avery was missing and possibly hitchhiked to Colorado or Texas.

Payne also denied telling Erno to destroy Dystynee Avery's computer. Erno has pleaded guilty to an accomplice charge that says he wiped data from the computer.

Instead of reporting the crime, Payne let the Avery family believe the 19-year-old was missing, Avery’s sister, Chloey Avery said by video call at Monday's sentencing. Payne chose to do the wrong thing many times, the sister said.

“You chose to protect the monster that killed her instead of making sure she was served justice,” she said.

Ethan Broad
Ethan Broad

Dystynee Avery said Payne wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her but let her down, Chloey Avery said.

“You were the only possible thing in that apartment that had a chance to save her,” Chloey Avery said. “And you chose not to do that. You instead decided to listen to a murder take place.”

Dystynee Avery's mother, Doreen Avery, said that she considered Payne to be like a daughter.

“You were no sister to Dystynee, no protector,” Doreen Avery said Monday in court. “When you saw Ethan with blood on his face sitting on the couch, you just made a sandwich to eat like nothing happened."

After a video showing pictures of Dystynee Avery was played in court, Payne apologized.

“I feel horrible,” she said. “I wish I could go back and change that day and my actions.”

RELATED:

Payne told a presentencing investigator that her troubles began by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Judge Michelle Lawson noted.

The judge said Payne’s troubles continued because of her own bad judgment and by making wrong choices after finding out Dystynee Avery was killed.

Payne had faced 20 years in prison. The state asked for Payne to serve 48 months in prison while the defense requested she be given credit for time served in jail.

A second accomplice charge was dismissed as part of the plea deal.

If Payne violates the terms of her probation, she could be sent to prison for three years.

Doreen Avery disagreed with the sentence and said Payne should have to serve more than three years.

Broad pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder, but he has asked a Clay County judge if he can withdraw that plea. His next hearing is May 21.

Brandon Everett Leroy Erbstoesser, 34, also faces accomplice charges for allegedly giving Broad advice on covering up evidence, but he has not entered a plea.

Erno, who has pleaded guilty in his case, is slated to be sentenced on May 10.