Jewel Thief, 83, Should Be Judged on Evidence, Not Past, Lawyer Says

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An attorney for Doris Payne — the 83-year-old notorious jewelry thief now facing charges in Riverside County — said evidence should be the focus of his client’s latest case, rather than her history.


Doris Marie Payne, 83, right, talks to her attorney at her arraignment in Indio. Payne, a convicted jewel thief, has pleaded not guilty. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Payne pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count each of second-degree burglary and grand theft amid allegations that she stole a $22,500 diamond-encrusted ring from a Palm Desert jewelry store. One of her attorneys, Guadalupe Valencia — who represented Payne in a 2011 San Diego County case — told The Times that onlookers should “hold judgment” on the octogenarian.

“She obviously became a pretty famous person and it’s easy for people to say, ‘Hey, she was in my store and something went missing,'” Valencia said. “I think what we need to do is take a step back and look at the evidence and not judge her on her past convictions but actually whether she did something this time.

“Just because she has been convicted in the past and stolen in the past doesn’t mean she did it this time,” he continued.

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