A Clark County jury took less than two hours Wednesday to convict a 40-year-old man in a 2008 slaying and robbery of a woman whose body was found in a northwest valley ravine.
At trial, prosecutors said LeSean Collins beat Brandi Payton, and gave the 29-year-old’s jewelry to his then-girlfriend hours before he dumped the victim’s body off a trail between U.S. Highway 95 and Lee Canyon Road.
Collins, who is also appealing arson and burglary charges levied against him around the same time Payton disappeared, did not appear in court to hear the jury’s verdict. He is scheduled to be sentenced on the murder and robbery charges in September.
ATV riders spotted Payton’s severely decomposed body on Sept. 6, 2008. A medical examiner ruled Payton had sustained blunt force trauma to the head, but could not determine a specific cause and manner of death.
Collins disappeared for several hours after handing over Payton’s jewelry to then-girlfriend Shalana Eddins, telling Eddins he was headed to Stateline.
But prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth said cellphone tower evidence suggested Collins was driving north toward where Payton’s body would be discovered less than a week later.
Blood stains found on the wall at the home Collins shared with Eddins also belonged to Payton, according to the prosecutor, as did forensic evidence found in the trunk mat of a Hyundai Sonata she had rented several days earlier.
That Sonata was found several miles south of Collins’ home about a month after Payton disappeared, partially burned and with its wheels removed.
One of Collins’ defense attorneys, David Schieck, said in closing arguments that prosecutors never proved a motive and “this case has more questions than answers.”
Collins and Payton were friends, defense lawyers said, and both dealt PCP, or “sherm sticks.”
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