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Bovey man gets 52 years in killing, kidnapping

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. - A Bovey who admitted shooting two people, one fatally, and kidnapping his estranged wife was sentenced as expected Thursday to 52½ years in prison.

William Levi Payne, 26, pleaded guilty last month in State District Court in Grand Rapids to second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping, terroristic threats, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and violating an order for protection.

According to the terms of the plea agreement reached last month and accepted by the judge Thursday, Payne will receive a prison sentence of 52½ years, of which he will have to serve at least 35 years, followed by 17½ years of supervised release.

According to court documents, Payne knew his estranged wife, Sarah Payne, and a male friend, Paul Russell Johnson, 32, were at Johnson’s Grand Rapids home when he went there Dec. 22. Payne shot Johnson and his mother, Rosemary Oberg-Johnson, 59, and kidnapped his wife. Mother and son were both critically wounded and airlifted to hospitals in Duluth. Oberg-Johnson died of her wounds Dec. 27. Johnson is said to be recovering.

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