Mountain City Attorney Randy Fallin recently filed a petition on July 7, 2016 in Washington County, Tennessee on behalf of his client, Barbara Potter, who, along with her daughter, Jennelle Potter, was convicted in the 2012 murders of Billy Payne, Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth. According to Fallin, new evidence has been discovered that he feels could change the outcome of the trial. Potter ‘s appeal of this conviction is on hold at this time.
According to Fallin, the book written about the case by prosecuting attorney Dennis Brooks and published after the conclusion of the trial, contained information not made available to the defense before or during the proceedings. Fallin says the book contains previously unknown statements made by Jamie Lynn Curd, Jenelle’s boyfriend, who pleaded guilty and testified against her.
Brooks’ book, “Too Pretty to Live, the Catfishing Murders of East Tennessee,” was released February 9 of this year and follows the case of what has become known as the Facebook murders where local residents, Billie Jean Hayworth and Billy Payne, were found murdered in their home, their infant son unharmed in his mother’s arms.
In previous comments to The Tomahawk, Fallin expressed his belief that the prosecution was obligated to provide this evidence to the defense, and that they did not do so. He says his approach to some of the witnesses would have been different had they been privy to the information at the time. “You can’t discover new evidence, sit on it and then not use it,” said Fallin.
According to an article published in the Johnson City Press July 27, 2016 edition, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals confirmed that there had been a court order to stay the appellate process while a petition for a writ of corm nobis is handled in court. This is a legal way to correct an error that if had not occurred would have led to a different result. A new judge will have to be appointed as the previous judge, Jon Kerry Blackwood, has since retired. If the judge grants Barbara Potter’s petition, she could have a new trial. While Jennelle Potter’s case is being appealed, it has been reported that at this time she has not joined Barbara Potter’s petition to present the new evidence.