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Weathersfield man pleads guilty in roommate’s death

Receives 14 to 19.5 years in prison for manslaughter

Staff photo / Guy Vogrin Defendant Ian Payne, right, pleads guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the March 18 shooting death of his Weathersfield roommate. At left is his attorney Sarah Thomas Kovoor.

WARREN — A Weathersfield man accused of shooting his boyhood friend and roommate to death the night of March 18 showed remorse Thursday as he was being sentenced to a term of 14 to 19 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Ian Payne, 29, of Barcelona Drive, took off his mask in the courtroom of Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald J. Rice to tell the family of victim Zachary Wiczen and the judge he was deeply sorry for what happened. The sentence handed down by Rice included a three-year mandatory term because a gun was used in commission of the crime.

“I regret the events of that night. He (Wiczen) was like a brother to me. Things just went wrong in a bad way,” Payne said. “We just got mixed up in the wrong thing.”

Wiczen, 27, was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to the head after police were called about 11:25 p.m. to the home in the 100 block of Barcelona Drive, according to police reports.

Family members of the victim were present in the courtroom, including Wiczen’s mother, Roseann.

“My son was not perfect, but he was my rock,” she said. “I don’t know how to go on without him, but I am. He just got tangled up with the wrong person.”

Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Becker said the family is satisfied with the way the case was resolved.

Becker said he understood the two men had been very close and the events of the night of the shooting resulted from an argument, as Payne was in the process of evicting Wiczen from his trailer. Becker said drugs also may have been involved.

“It’s heartbreaking when you have best friends and roommates end up fighting, and one kills the other,” Becker said. “It (the shooting) was a strange set of circumstances, but the combination of drugs and a firearm is never good.”

Becker lauded the work of Weathersfield detective Sgt. Dan Lowery, who pieced together the events. The Trumbull County Homicide Task Force also investigated the case.

According to a Trumbull County 911 report, a caller said the two roommates “started arguing and Zachary pulled a gun. They wrestled around with it, and it went off.” The caller then told 911 that after the shooting, “the gun was unloaded and is sitting on the couch.”

Becker confirmed that the 911 caller was Payne — and that fact had a lot to do with the charge being reduced to manslaughter.

A separate Trumbull County 911 report showed that police were dispatched to the same address earlier that night to investigate “a roommate making threats.” Becker said the police were not even back to the station when they received the call about the shooting.

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