Man accused of killing former Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne pleads not guilty

Chris Solari
Detroit Free Press

More tragic details have emerged in Monday’s shooting death of Adreian Payne in Orlando, Florida.

The former Michigan State basketball star, according to court documents, went with his girlfriend to assist a female acquaintance who was in an allegedly abusive relationship when the suspect, Lawrence Dority. After speaking with Payne outside the home, Dority went inside, retrieved a gun and shot and killed Payne, according to the court file. Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Payne, 31, was unarmed.

Payne, who played for the Spartans from 2010-14, was shot at 1:33 a.m. Monday morning and was pronounced dead at 2:23 a.m. after being transported to AdventHealth Hospital East in Orlando.

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Dority, 29, was arrested at his home, the scene of the shooting, and has been charged with first-degree murder with a firearm. Dority entered a not guilty plea Tuesday morning and waived his arraignment, according to court files.

Michigan State senior center Adreian Payne carries his special guest Lacey Holsworth onto the court where he was honored with fellow seniors on March 6, 2014, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

In the affidavit filing, Payne’s girlfriend told detectives she and Payne asked to come to the residence of the shooter. Her name was redacted in the report. They were there, according to the affidavit, to assist Dority’s girlfriend, Tatiana Mesa.

According the affidavit, Payne’s girlfriend "described Mesa and Dority to have a relationship where they argue often" and that she "has previously responded to be a ‘mediator’ to prevent any physical violence."

Dority told Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies his father, Larry Dority, dropped him off at the younger Dority’s residence. He told police he lived at that location for two months. They arrived and saw an unknown vehicle parked in the roadway at a nearby intersection, and the alleged shooter exited his father’s car and walked to the other vehicle, a black Chevy sedan with dark tinted windows. Payne and his girlfriend were inside.

The elder Dority, who remained in his car, told police his son approached the car’s driver’s side and began "talking close together" with Payne at the vehicle.  According to the affidavit, the father said he felt Lawrence Dority "appeared to be intimidated based on the size difference and (his son’s) stance."  

Payne was 6-foot-10 and 244 pounds; Dority’s court file lists him as 5-8, 150.

The younger Dority told deputies he interpreted Payne’s presence as a threat, according to the court file, and shot Payne after he got out of his car. According to Dority, Payne was "making movements with his right hand in the right side of his waist band" and that he "observed the ‘shape of a gun’ on the right side of his shirt, where he was moving hand." Dority also claimed Payne said, "I’ll smoke you bra," which Dority said is why he left the vehicle and went into his house to get his gun after the initial verbal confrontation.

Sep 29, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Adreian Payne (33) talks to members of the media during the Atlanta Hawks media day at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

A witness told police Payne "was not threatening Dority in any way." Dority then exited his home and, according to a witness in the affidavit, returned to the car "holding something under his shirt which she believed was a firearm."

According to the affidavit, security camera video and audio from Dority’s residence captured a female voice saying, "Do not pull out your gun" and "We were asked to come here."

Dority is alleged to have taken a shooting stance near a tree with both arms leaning forward and fired a single shot at Payne, then returned inside his home with the weapon. Dority’s father told police he left his car after hearing the shot and went to Payne’s vehicle, finding the injured basketball player in the driver’s seat and then providing medical aid.

The younger Dority called 911 once inside and, according to the affidavit, said: "This man tried coming to my house, he cut around my block, and he tried shooting me. … He act like he got a gun, and I shot him." Dority also told dispatchers he was in possession of the firearm used in the shooting, a black 9 mm FN509 handgun.

In the affidavit, Dority told deputies Payne was "getting in his face and was intimidating due to his size" and that he believed the shooting was justified because "he was protecting his family and protecting his home."

Florida is a stand-your-ground state, and its law states: "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

However, according to the affidavit, Orange County Sheriff’s deputies felt Payne "did not pose an immediate threat to Dority" and that the suspect "left the situation and then returned with a firearm." They said Payne was unarmed, and there was no firearm found in his vehicle.

Payne, a native of Dayton, Ohio, spent three years in the NBA before playing overseas starting in 2018. The 2014 first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks is one of 10 Spartans ever with 1,200 career points and 700 career rebounds.

Follow Chris Solari on Twitter @chrissolari.