Three inmates charged with murder

Posted at 2:59 PM, Mar 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-25 23:14:40-04

Three inmates have been re-arrested and charged this week with murder.

Two of the inmates have been charged in relation to a murder that happened while they were in prison. The other was for a murder that happened in 1988.

Court records released Friday show 26-year-old Randy Payton and 27-year-old Wesley Wailes have been charged with the first degree murder of convicted child molester Gordon Lee. On July 4, 2014, Lee was strangled to death while at the Lewis Prison Complex in Buckeye. 

The Department of Corrections reported its investigation findings to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. Authorities believe Payton put Lee in a choke hold from behind, while investigators say Wailes flushed a toilet to cover Lee's calls for help.

Payton denies the allegations, saying he was sleeping at the time of the murder.

Payton is in prison for burglary, theft and aggravated assault convictions from Mohave County. 

Wailes is in prison for second degree murder, aggravated assault and burglary charges from Maricopa County.

The other arrest and charges belong to 43-year-old Gilbert Balderaz. He's been in the Eyeman Prison in Florence serving time for theft, aggravated assault and child molestation. Now he has been charged charged with second degree murder in the October 1988 stabbing death of Robert Gamez. 

Phoenix police reopened Balderaz's case in 2011 and ordered a DNA analysis for any that did not belong to the victim, officers said.

Investigators received a match in 2015, which led them to Balderaz. Authorities have not found a motive for Gamez's death.