Chris Payne's girlfriend sentenced

Gonzales' booking photo from the Pima County Jail. She crafted a plea deal with the county in exchange for testifying against her boyfriend, Chris Payne.
Gonzales' booking photo from the Pima County Jail. She crafted a plea deal with the county in exchange for testifying against her boyfriend, Chris Payne.

By Leasa Conze - email

Reina Gonzales has been sentenced to 22 years in prison, as expected, for her plea to second-degree murder in the deaths of 3-year old Ariana and 4-year old Tyler Payne.

Gonzales accepted a plea deal from prosecutors in exchange for testifying against her former boyfriend, Christopher Payne.

He was found guilty of killing both his children and sentenced to death last month.

Gonzales testified that while she and Payne were living together with his two children, they were using heroin, that they lost their jobs and would forget to feed both children.

Gonzales also testified the children were kept locked in a closet.  Gonzales discovered Tyler had died after Payne asked her to check on him.

She also testified Tyler's little sister, Ariana, died several days later and that the bodies of both children were put in a storage locker.

The murders weren't discovered until the body of only Ariana was discovered in that northside storage locker in February 2007.  The owners of the storage facility were cleaning it out for lack of payment from Payne.

During the ensuing investigation, authorities searched the Los Reales landfill for Tyler's body but it was never found.