East Norriton woman headed to prison for elderly neighbor’s death

Elisabeth Anna Floyd

NORRISTOWN >> Nearly two years to the day that she assaulted her 96-year-old neighbor and inflicted injuries that resulted in his death, an East Norriton woman learned she’s headed to state prison.

Elisabeth “Libby” Floyd, 35, of the 500 block of Marion Avenue, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court on Wednesday to five to 10 years in a state correctional facility on charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault in connection with the Sept. 21, 2015, attack that ultimately led to the death of Alfred C. Payne, who authorities said died from complications of a hip fracture he suffered during the assault. A jury convicted Floyd of the charges during a trial in March.

Judge Gail A. Weilheimer also ordered Floyd, a married mother of a 6-year-old boy, to complete five years’ probation following parole, for a total period of court supervision of 15 years. Floyd, an Air Force veteran who had medical training after spending time in Afghanistan and Iraq, sobbed as she learned her fate.

“Mrs. Floyd made a choice that will forever change the trajectory of the Payne family and her own family. The choices you made on Sept. 21, 2015, were your choices,” Weilheimer addressed Floyd as she imposed the punishment. “Mr. Payne is forever lost as a result of your actions that day.”

While the judge said she considered Floyd’s service to her country and the fact Floyd had previously been treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she denied a defense request for a mitigated sentence.

Floyd, who at trial denied assaulting Payne and testified that she was trying to help Payne who she claimed had fallen in his driveway, apologized for her conduct for the first time on Wednesday. But Assistant District Attorney Meghan Carney and co-prosecutor Robert Kolansky suggested the apology was not sincere.

“She even labeled herself the neighborhood hero, tending to Mr. Payne and his injuries, when in fact she was the direct cause of his being injured and the direct cause of his death because she threw him to the ground and beat him repeatedly,” said Carney, referring to Floyd’s trial testimony. “She was not a hero. She was the attacker and that’s why we felt that apology today was not sincere.”

Carney argued for a lengthy state prison term against Floyd, citing the “brutal nature of the attack” and the age of the victim.

“The elderly are some of the members of the community that need our greatest protection and the defendant preyed on an elderly person,” Carney said.

Kolansky said the assault resulted in Payne, a man who enjoyed his independence up to that point, of being placed in a rehabilitation facility for the remainder of his life.

“This was an unprovoked attack where she ran across the street, she threw him to the ground and she continued to beat him, causing him multiple, substantial injuries including a broken hip,” Kolansky added.

A motive for the assault was never revealed in court and Floyd offered no excuse for her conduct. Authorities said Floyd was topless at the time of the assault.

Members of Payne’s family solemnly told the judge the impact of his death is long-lasting. Family members said Payne, a World War II veteran, enjoyed baking cookies and sitting on his porch. Payne was described affectionately in court as “a spitfire.”

“He seemed to be enjoying the end of his life and seemed to appreciate all you provided to him,” Weilheimer addressed Payne’s survivors, urging them to celebrate his life. “He seems to be a man worth celebrating.”

During the trial, while Carney and Kolansky argued Payne’s death was a direct result of Floyd’s conduct, defense lawyer David Tornetta argued Payne’s injuries and death were the result of a fall in his driveway that was not attributable to Floyd.

Tornetta sought leniency on behalf of Floyd, arguing she had no prior criminal record and was the mother of a young son who needs her.

“She’s a wife and a mother. I think my client has shown remorse,” Tornetta argued.

During the trial, jurors heard directly from Payne whose sworn testimony was recorded three weeks before his death. Payne, his image presented on a large projection screen, was adamant that “the neighbor girl across the street” assaulted him on his driveway as he went outside to retrieve his morning newspaper.

Payne’s testimony was recorded Jan. 29, 2016, at The Meadows at Shannondell where Payne had been recuperating after undergoing hip surgery after the assault. Payne died on Feb. 19, 2016.

Payne, testimony revealed, consistently told paramedics, detectives and the doctors who treated him that his neighbor assaulted him.

On May 31, 2016, three months after Payne died, a forensic pathologist who reviewed autopsy reports and Payne’s medical records, provided an opinion that the cause of Payne’s death “was failure to thrive due to complications of hip fracture” and the manner of death was ruled homicide.

Under state law, a person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of an unlawful or lawful act, in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, they cause the death of another person.

The jury, after a four-day trial and 13 hours of deliberations, acquitted Floyd of a more serious charge of third-degree murder, which required a finding of malice.

Floyd did not wage a mental health defense at trial.

Previously, testimony and court documents revealed Floyd had been treated by Veterans Association mental health officials in the past. The judge ordered that all of Floyd’s mental health treatment records be forwarded to state prison officials so she can continue with any recommended counseling.

At trial, Tornetta suggested Payne had numerous medical problems and previously suffered bouts of dizziness and fainting. Tornetta also implied Payne could have concocted the beating story to hide the fact he fell, fearing his family would place him in a nursing home.

But Payne’s children testified for prosecutors that their father hadn’t suffered fainting spells since he was fitted with a pacemaker in 2007.

Relatives testified Payne was very “independent” and that there had been no discussions about moving Payne to a nursing home. They also testified Payne was an honest man who would have revealed if he had simply fallen.

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