Johnson Co. Double Murder Case Moves On To Grand Jury
We're learning new facts in the double murder case in Johnson County, Tennessee.
News 5 was inside the courtroom as suspects Marvin Potter Jr. and Jamie Lynn Curd appeared before a judge. Both men are charged in the killings of Billy Payne Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth. The couple was found dead inside their home back in January.
It's a gruesome crime with an unusual motive. Authorities say it all could have started on Facebook. But Wednesday's focus for prosecutors was simply finding enough evidence that the two were involved.
As the victims' family sought justice inside the courtroom, Marvin Potter Jr. and Jamie Lynn Curd awaited their fate.
"The court will conduct the hearing to find if there's any probable cause," said Judge Bliss Hawkins.
TBI agent Scott Lott, who investigated the crime scene and interviewed the suspects, testified and read aloud a written statement made by Curd.
Curd's statement claims it was Potter who brought him to Payne and Hayworth's house and shot the victims. In the statement that was read, Curd's own role is questionable.
"I will not say if I cut Billy's neck or not, but the only reason I would cut Billy's neck is because I was scared if I did not, Buddy [Marvin Potter Jr.] would kill me, too," Lott said as he read Curd's statement to the courtroom.
Recorded phone calls were also used as evidence of probable cause. Lott said Potter called his wife after being interviewed and admitted to playing a part in the deadly crime.
"I was involved in it. I did it," Potter's voice said in the recorded phone call that way played for the courtroom to hear.
That phone call alleges that Potter shot the victims to protect his own family. In the call, Potter said he didn't want his wife and daughter to be afraid anymore.
While Potter never gave a written statement to invesigators, and Lott said Curd verbally contradicted what he told investigators later on, the judge bound the case over to a grand jury.
It was a small victory for a family still grieving and desperately seeking closure.
"A part of my soul is broken," said Beverly Garland, Billy Payne Jr.'s mother, "I miss my son. I love him," she said, trying to hold back tears.
A grand jury will meet on March 29. In the meantime, we're told the investigation is still on-going, and prosecutors are gathering more evidence to build their case. They've requested information from Facebook, AOL instant messenger, and emails. The state is also awaiting lab results from DNA tests and autopsies.
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