VERDICT: Potter found guilty in "Facebook" double murder - WFLA News Channel 8

VERDICT: Potter found guilty in "Facebook" double murder

Posted: Updated: Oct 10, 2013 07:07 PM


Jurors just announced their verdict in the Marvin Potter double murder trial in Jonesborough.

They found Potter guilty of two counts of 1st degree murder in the deaths of Billy Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth.

Sentencing will happen later this month.

Look for live updates starting at 5 p.m. on News Channel 11.




The prosecution rested it's case today in the double murder trial of Marvin Potter.

Potter is one of four people facing murder charges in the deaths of Billy Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth last January at their Johnson County home.

Thursday we heard from 11 witnesses. One was Chief Deputy Joe Woodard who was in charge of gathering evidence at the Potter house

He said when he was at the Potter house Barbara Potter took a stack of papers and started ripping them up.

The defense brought those papers today which were printed out emails from Barbara with pictures of Hayworth and Lindsey Thompson with headlines such as "here they are" and some sexually derogatory language.

The defense called Sarah Wright to the stand who was Hayworth's best friend.

"She's  the most lovable person. She would do anything for you and I mean even if she didn't know you very well she would bend over backwards. If there was any confrontation between her friends she would never cause drama..never add into the drama," Wright said.

Jerry Wineburger also testified who worked at a local grocery story where the Potters frequented. Wineburger said Marvin Potter once told him he would put a bullet in Billy Payne's head if ever given a chance.

Linda Stephens was one of the people who discovered the bodies. She described a scene a few months before the murders while she was working at a gas station. Billie Jean came to get gas and a car pulled up with two women inside yelling at Hayworth. When Stephens asked who the two women were Billie Jean said Jenelle and Barbara Potter.

"She said I can't believe they won't stop. Every time I go anywhere it's constant harassment. They find me and want to threaten me they call me trash and worthless and now that I have a child that I'm unfit to be a mother and that I shouldn't have a child," Stephens said.

The defense called 3 witnesses today who talked for the most part about Billy Payne's history with selling prescription drugs. A friend of Billie Jeans testified and said by no means was it an operation if he was selling it was minimal.

The judge said the case should wrap up Friday.

For the first time in the trial of a man accused of killing a Johnson County couple in front of their 6-month-old child, the jury heard the suspect say "I did it" in evidence presented by prosecution.  A stunning development in the first degree murder trial of Marvin Potter.

On Monday, a state forensic pathologist testified that Billy Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth suffered life ending injuries after they were shot in their home last January.  Marvin Potter is accused of killing the couple after a confrontation on Facebook.  

In court on Tuesday a TBI interrogation video of Potter showed him calling his wife and saying, "I just wanted you to know before you heard it from everybody else, I was involved in it.  I did it."

The jury also heard more testimony from Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Agent Scott Lott.  Lott was one of the agents who interrogated Potter.   

In additional video clips of the interrogation showed to the Jury at the beginning of the day, Potter first said he would understand why someone would kill Billy Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth to protect their family, but kept saying he didn't do it.  Hours later into the interrogation, TBI officials told Potter they had proof that he committed the murders.  TBI then played Potter a recorded phone call between himself Jamie Lynn Curd.  Curd is also charged in the murders.  

In that phone call Curd asked, "Are you sure you got rid of everything?"  Potter replied, "yes."  

A little later, Potter said in the recorded phone call, "There's no reason to point fingers at you because I got rid of everything."

After Potter heard that conversation, he began crying.  This all captured on the TBI interrogation video.  Potter was then allowed to call his wife.  That phone call was also recorded.  That was when Potter told his wife, "I just wanted you to know before you heard it from everybody else, I was involved in it.  I did it."  Potter then told his wife he did it to protect her and his daughter.

The defense then questioned Agent Lott about the interrogation, asking if Potter was coherent because he wasn't given his needed medication.  They also questioned the use of Jamie Lynn Curd's signed statement in the TBI interrogation because the defense said Curd recanted that statement the next day.  

The prosecution then presented emails they found shredded in garbage bags in the back of Potter's truck.  It took investigators months to piece the emails back together.  Those emails were allegedly between Jennelle Potter, her mother Barbara Potter, and two other people.  The emails included vulgar language and threats on the lives of Billy Payne an Billie Jean Hayworth.
Prosecutors told news channel 11 they could wrap up their side of the case by the end of Thursday. That's when the defense will then begin to make their case.

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