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After four years, man charged in murder of Northeastern student

A former Boston man has been indicted in the 2008 murder of a Northeastern University student and a Billerica man was arrested for perjury in the case, the Suffolk County District Attorney announced Sunday.

Cornell Smith, 30, was charged with first-degree murder for shooting Rebecca Payne in her Mission Hill apartment almost four years ago. He was also charged with armed assault in a dwelling and unlawful possession of a firearm, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a press release.

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“She was, in every sense, an innocent victim,” Conley said in the statement.

Smith is serving a 12-year federal prison sentence out of state for an unrelated drug conviction. It was not clear when he would be returned to Boston to face the murder charges.

Michael Balba, 55, of Billerica, was arrested Saturday and charged with four counts of perjury for allegedly lying to the Suffolk County Grand Jury during the long investigation into Payne’s death.

Balba is expected to be arraigned Monday in Suffolk Superior Court.

Payne was a 22-year-old Northeastern student from New Milford, Conn. when she was found by the building manager of her Parker Hill Avenue apartment the morning of May 20, 2008, with gunshot wounds to her chest and legs.

Alexander C. Kaufman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AlexCKaufman.
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