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Originally published Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:53 PM

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Inmate was at hospital hours before jumping from Seattle courthouse window

A 29-year-old Auburn man who jumped to his death from the 11th floor of the King County Courthouse Tuesday morning had been at Harborview Medical Center the night before because of deepening depression, according to his family.

Seattle Times staff reporters

A 29-year-old Auburn man who jumped to his death from the 11th floor of the King County Courthouse Tuesday morning had been at Harborview Medical Center the night before because of deepening depression, according to his family.

The family confirmed the identity of 29-year-old George Payne Jr., who was in the King County Jail's work-release program. According to jail officials, he threw a chair through a plate-glass window in the work-release area of the courthouse and jumped to his death around 11:25 a.m.

Jail Cmdr. William Hayes confirmed that Payne had obtained a pass to go to Harborview on Monday night, but Hayes did not know the reason Payne had given for his request.

George Payne Sr. said his son had a history of depression and bipolar disorder and had been hospitalized at Harborview in the past for psychiatric problems.

He said his son had been "very down" and increasingly despondent, even though he was close to getting out of jail and was to attend the University of Washington in January.

"This past week things had become very dark for him," his father said.

The senior Payne said his wife, Sandra, spoke to her son and doctors at the hospital early Tuesday morning. "She begged them to let him stay," Payne said. "This just doesn't seem right."

Telephone messages and a page sent to a spokeswoman at Harborview were not returned Tuesday evening.

The senior Payne's sister-in-law, Marjorie Shaw, said George Jr. was released from Harborview about 2:30 a.m. and apparently returned to jail.

Hayes said there are questions about the apparent suicide, and that an internal investigation had been launched. Inmate deaths generally are also reviewed by a county inquest jury.

Payne pleaded guilty in April to a single count of felony harassment after he threatened employees at an Auburn bar who had evicted him for not paying his tab and for being drunk. He received a 90-day sentence. He served 60 days, was released, but was returned to work-release after violating the terms of his probation, according to court records.

He had fewer than 30 days left to serve, according to jail and court records.

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According to a memo filed in his harassment case, Payne was an "excellent student and a stand out soccer player" who had graduated from Green River Community College and had been accepted to attend the UW.

"On the other hand, Mr. Payne has had mental health concerns and drug addictions have hindered his ability to succeed," wrote his lawyer, Thomas Campbell.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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