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Suspect Arraigned In 2008 Murder Of Northeastern Student

Cornell Smith, center, during his arraignment Monday at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston (AP/The Boston Globe, Pool)

Cornell Smith, center, during his arraignment Monday in Boston (AP/The Boston Globe, Pool)

In what prosecutors have called a case of mistaken identity, a man formerly of Boston has pleaded not guilty to murdering a Northeastern University student in May 2008.

Cornell Smith, now 30, is charged with fatally shooting Rebecca Payne, a 22-year-old student from New Milford, Conn., in her Mission Hill apartment. Smith was ordered held without bail at his arraignment Monday in Boston’s Suffolk Superior Court.

The arraignment had been delayed because Smith is serving a 12-year drug sentence in federal prison.

Nicholas and Virginia Payne hold pictures of their slain daughter, Rebecca, outside a Boston courtroom Monday. (AP)

Nicholas and Virginia Payne hold pictures of their slain daughter outside a Boston courtroom Monday. (AP)

The Boston Herald reports:

Authorities said Payne resembled a woman who lived in the same building and with whom Smith had a “drug related feud” that escalated into a physical fight in the days before the shooting.

During the arraignment, Payne’s parents, Nicholas and Virginia Payne, held their daughter’s picture in the front row, according to WBZ-AM’s Carl Stevens. Nicholas Payne later called Smith a mixture of “evil and stupidity,” according to Stevens.

Last month, according to the Hartford Courant, the parents held a march in Boston to denounce violence, and in 2010 Nicholas Payne ran for Connecticut’s General Assembly on a platform of legalizing drugs in an effort to curb drug-related violence.

Following the trial, the Paynes plan to leave America permanently.

“Our ties to this country have been broken,” Nicholas Payne told the Courant last month.

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