Local News

Story published: 01-15-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Judge says Potters/Curd trial will remain in Washington County


By David Walter

The alleged conspirators of the infamous “Facebook Murders” sat in a Washington County Tennessee courtroom last Wednesday morning to schedule their upcoming trial. The murders of Billy Payne, Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth of Johnson County occurred in January of 2012. The murders were allegedly over the disdain of the victims, with a catalyst event being the “defriending” of a defendant from the victim’s Facebook account. One defendant, Marvin Enoch “Buddy” Potter Jr., was previously found guilty in October of two counts of first-degree murder. He was subsequently sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. During his sentencing of Potter, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood noted the particular cold-hearted nature of the circumstances, and that Marvin Potter showed little to no regard for human life.

Three defendants remain to stand trial on their charges nearly two years after the murders. They include Barbara Potter, the wife of Marvin Potter, Jr. and Jenelle Potter, the daughter of Marvin Potter, Jr. and Barbara Potter. Both Jenelle and Barbara Potter were arrested on August 9, 2012. They have each been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Barbara Potter also faces a charge of tampering with evidence. Jamie Lee Curd, who allegedly committed the murder along with Marvin Potter, sat across from Jenelle and Barbara Potter in the courtroom. Curd, who has been incarcerated and awaiting trial since February, 2012, is also facing two counts of first-degree murder.

Last Wednesday’s hearing involved several matters pertaining to the case. It had previously been decided to be tried as a joint trial of all three defendants. However, the defense and prosecution debated whether or not the case should be heard by a local jury. Defense attorneys in Wednesday’s hearing, Cameron Hyder for Janelle Potter, Randy Fallin and David Robbins for Barbara Potter, and Casey Sears for Curd, unamiously argued their concern of finding an impartial jury for the trial. Their argument was that the case had received such an incredible amount of media coverage and attention through news outlets and social media that it would be difficult to find a non-biased jury. Judge Blackwood had previously chosen to try Marvin Potter in Washington County because of the case’s notoriety in Johnson County. Requests by the defense to aquire a jury from outside Washington County were denied by Blackwood. Although Blackwood did acknowledge the gravity of these isues, he noted that this would be taken into further consideration as the case progressed.

The second issue discussed during the hearing was the start date for the trial. Following Marvin Potter’s sentencing, the original trial date was set for May 12, 2014. The defense argued that with the volumunous amount of electronic evidence available on the case, they would need an extension to compile all relevant information. The prosecution had no argument to the extension and the new trial date is set for August 11, 2014.