MEDFORD, Ore. – Day 3 of the Below case ended in a verdict and sentencing on Thursday. Earlier that afternoon, the judge ruled Mitchell Below guilty of murder, sentencing him to life in prison.
After serving a mandatory sentence of 300 months, which is 25 years, Below will be able to apply for parole. Should officials grant him parole, he would be on post prison surveillance for the remainder of his life.
After the judge read the verdict, the victim’s mother addressed the court, telling Below he “destroyed her family”. After the judge read Below’s sentence, there was a sigh of relief from the victim’s family. They were whispering prayers during the reading.
The judge told the court the decision between charging Below with murder or manslaughter came down to Below’s mental state at the time of the murder. After the reading, Below’s mother became emotional and started shouting out loud that her son is a good person and that the victim had harassed him leading up to the murder.
Family members called medical personnel into the court room to check her out for possible blood pressure spikes, since she was hysterical. The judge did acknowledge that Below was not emotionally stable; he described Below’s life circumstances a “toxic cocktail”, suffering from financial issues, alcohol and substance abuse, and depression.
The reading ended with a statement from Below himself. Seemingly emotionless, he thanked the judge, apologized for killing Ms. Payne and said he though it was funny that her mother showed up to the court for the sentencing because Payne reportedly hated her.