By Paula Walter
The trial for Marvin Enoch Buddy Potter, charged with the first-degree double murder of Billie Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth, began this past Monday, October 7th in Washington County. The venue for the trial was recently moved from Johnson County to the Jonesborough courthouse. Barbara Potter, Janelle Potter and Jamie Curtis have also been charged with first-degree murder. Payne and Hayworth were found dead in their homes on January 31, 2012. Hayworth was found holding their baby in her arms.
The trial began with the testimony of Scott Lott from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). Lott was the lead investigator in the case and described the murder scene in detail. The jury was shown photographs of Payne and Hayworth at the crime scene surrounded by baby toys and the crib of their infant son. Randy Fallin, attorney for Potter, informed the jury that it would take someone cold-hearted to commit these crimes. Police previously stated the murders occurred because of an argument over defriending Janelle Potter, the daughter of Marvin Potter, on Facebook. Fallin said they would be presenting a different theory and a different shooter arising from a drug deal gone bad.
However, prosecutors Matthew Roark and Dennis Brooks presented a different view, characterizing the Potters as being preoccupied with those people they saw as enemies, people who were not friends with Janelle Potter. Brooks and Roark presented a theory based on evidence allegedly found in the back of Marvin Potters vehicle. Brooks said there were three bags of trash that contained shredded papers. He presented the papers were emails that showed a lot of anger, along with threats that someone needed to die. The murders were characterized as appearing like a professional hit job as there were no signs of a struggle and shots to Hayworth and Payne were at close range to the head. Defense attorney Fallin rebutted he didnt believe the state could trace the emails to Potter as Potter doesnt know how to use a computer. He also added there wasnt any proof of the weapon that was used to fire the shots that killed Payne and Hayworth.
Lisa Wessner from the TBI testified she had searched Potters truck and found five .38 caliber bullets along with the bags of trash in the back of the vehicle. Steve Scott, also with the TBI, testified he had examined the bullets found in Potters truck along with the bullets found at the crime scene. Scott, a firearms identification expert, also examined the weapons that were found in Potters home but was not able to connect the bullets at the crime scene to any of the weapons. Scott also said a bullet found at the home of Payne and Hayworth had markings that appeared to have been made from a knife, as did the bullets found by Wessner, suggesting they came from the same source. He referred to the marking as a poor mans hollow point that would cause the bullet to expand.
Day two of the trials began on Tuesday with a forensic pathologist taking the stand. Roy Stephens, a friend of Payne and Hayworth, also took the stand as he was the one who found the bodies.
Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood is presiding over the trial.
By Paula Walter