Norfolk, Va. – A Norfolk man is spending decades in prison for a crime someone else has admitted to since it happened.
“Time and time I admit it,” Glenn “Geno” Payne told NewsChannel 3. “To this day I admit it.”
For 21 years, Payne has said he fired the gun in the August 4, 1993 drive-by shooting on the corner of Ball Avenue and South Lakeland Drive in Norfolk.
No one was killed, and no one was injured.
“I shot in the air,” said Payne. “Just to scare them. Let them know, and drove on by.”
However, 39-year-old Bobbie Morman, Jr. is serving a 48-year-long prison sentence for the crime.
“I`ve been locked up 21 years August 5th for something I didn`t even do at all,” Morman told NewsChannel 3 during a phone interview from Wallen Ridge State Prison.
Morman has been in prison for the shooting since he was 18.
“I can’t touch and hug my son,” said his father, Bobbie Morman, Sr.
“It’s heartbreaking when we go to the prison, and I have to leave him behind,” said Bobbie Morman’s mother, Mary. “I just want to take his hand and bring him home, but I can’t do that.”
“I know the truth,” said his brother Tony Morman.
Bobbie Morman admits that he was no saint before all this.
As a teen in the early 1990s, he was convicted of having a gun on school property and attempted malicious wounding.
He owned up to those crimes, but he has always said he had nothing to do with the crime that put him in prison.
So has his friend Geno Payne, who admitted to the shooting at court hearings, the trial and Morman’s sentencing.
“No one was shot. No one was hurt,” said Payne. “It`s just a little bit of gun play. Bullets in the air. Pow. That`s all it was.”
Not the jury, or the courts our authorities acted on Payne’s admission.
“I have never gotten charged,” Payne said.
On the night of the shooting, three people in their teens and early 20s were sitting in front of a house on South Lakeland. It was well after 9 p.m. when the three said they saw a car with several people inside slowly drove by. They said they saw Bobbie Morman, a known enemy of theirs, reach his arm out of the car and shoot at them.
At the trial, Mike Altoveros, one of the so-called targets, said “I figured it was Bobby”, but later said he did get a good look at Bobbie Morman’s face.
However, when Bobbie Morman’s attorney asked “can you say under oath who fired the gun?” Altoveros said “not exactly.”
Everyone in the car with Payne that night, including Morman’s brother Tony, testified Bobbie Morman was never with them.
“They confused me with him,” said Tony Morman. “I was sitting forward and I felt somebody behind the seat reach their hand out shot in the air.”
“That was Geno,” Tony Morman said.
Another man testified that he and Bobbie Morman were playing video games at a 7-Eleven on Norview Avenue, which is roughly three blocks from the scene of the shooting.
“I wasn’t even there when it happened,” Bobbie Morman said.
It was a hung jury at first, but court transcripts reveal Norfolk Judge Jerome James pressed them to come to a verdict. After further deliberations, the jury came back with guilty verdicts for three counts of attempted malicious wounding, three counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
“As soon as they said guilty, I started crying then because I thought I was going home” Bobbie Morman said.
At the sentencing, Judge James said “Do they think as a community that we are going to just sit here and let them kill all of us? I mean do they think that? I mean really?”
Moments later, before the judge handed down the sentence, Morman said “I ain’t serving time for something I didn’t do.”
Judge James replied “If you think you’re intimidating me, try it, because I will bring this ceiling right down on you.”
After that, James imposed the 48-year-long sentence, which was in line with the jury’s recommendation for the maximum.
“I know people with murder charges that have less time than me,” Bobbie Morman said.
Payne said he has been able to live a life and have a family while Bobbie Morman’s been in prison. He said he prays Morman will soon have a chance to do the same.
“I was the one that done it,” said Payne. “Let him out.”
Morman has appealed his case to the Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court, but both were denied.
He’s scheduled to be released in 2036.
A defense attorney said Morman’s best option at this point is to ask for a pardon from the governor.