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Mental health evaluation ordered for accused accomplice in Moorhead dismemberment case

The second-degree charges allege Payne lied to police about 19-year-old Dystynee Avery, who died April 3 at her Moorhead apartment.

Andrea Payne
Andrea Payne

MOORHEAD — Doctors will decide whether a Moorhead woman can be held criminal responsible for allegedly covering up the death of her roommate before her dismembered body was found in the Clay County landfill weeks later.

Clay County Judge Michelle Lawson ordered Andrea Catherine Payne, 26, participate in a mental health evaluation to determine whether she is fit to stand trial on two felony counts of accomplice after the fact. The second-degree charges allege Payne lied to police about 19-year-old Dystynee Avery, who died April 3 at her Moorhead apartment.

Dystynee Avery.jpg
Dystynee Avery

The evaluation will look at if she is not competent to proceed or she was not responsible for covering up Avery’s death because of a mental illness or developmental disability.

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Court documents also allege Payne and two others helped 27-year-old Ethan Martin Broad hide Avery’s death. Broad, who lived with Payne and Avery, hit Avery over the head in the apartment, dragged her body to a garage and dismembered her before dumping her remains in a dumpster, court documents allege.

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Defense attorney Brian Toay declined to say why he thought Payne needs an evaluation, other than noting he has had conversations with his client that suggests she needs one.
Lawson said she would accept Toay’s argument at face value, noting state law prohibits lawyers from violating attorney-client privilege.

Prosecutors previously filed a motion that would allow Payne to be sentenced on the higher end of sentencing guidelines if found guilty. She could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

That motion has been put on hold pending the results of the evaluation. If Payne is found unfit for trial, she could be committed to a mental health facility for treatment.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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