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Man Pleads Guilty To 2008 Murder Of Northeastern Student

BOSTON (CBS) – A man charged with the 2008 killing of a Northeastern University student pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on Friday.

Cornell Smith was arrested in 2012 and charged with killing Rebecca Payne, a Connecticut resident who was in Boston for school.

Rebecca Payne
Rebecca Payne.

Payne was shot multiple times inside her Parker Hill Ave. apartment in Mission Hill.

Investigators said her death was a result of mistaken identity. At the time of Smith's arrest, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley called Payne "in every sense, an innocent victim."

On Friday, Payne's parents were in the courtroom as Smith changed his plea. They embraced throughout the proceedings as they listened to details of their daughter's murder.

Smith pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and also changed his plea to guilty for illegal possession of a firearm. A judge accepted Smith's guilty plea.

A judge ordered Smith serve no less than 18 years in prison, but no more than 20 years.

When ordering the sentence, the judge told Smith to turn and face Payne's friends and family because they are the faces of pain suffered due to his actions.

Several of Payne's friends addressed the court with victim impact statements. One friend asked the judge to impost the maximum penalty.

Payne's parents issued their own statements, remembering their daughter as a "blessing."

Billerica resident Michael Balba was also charged with lying to the Suffolk County Grand Jury during the investigation into Payne's death.

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