We have new facts in the so-called ‘Facebook Murders’ case in Johnson County.
Lawyers for three people accused in the case were in court in Carter County Wednesday so a judge could hear three motions in the case.
Barbara Potter, Jenelle Potter, and Jamie Lynn Curd are each charged with two counts of first degree murder plus conspiracy to commit murder. The charges are in connection to the 2012 Johnson County killings of a young couple Billy Payne, Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth because they 'unfriended' Marvin Potter's adult daughter on Facebook.
Attorneys for Jenelle Potter, Barbara Potter, and Jamie Lynn Curd were in Carter County Court Thursday. They filed three motions for the judge to consider on behalf of their clients, who weren't in court because they waived their rights to appear.
The three motions were to reconsider choosing a jury from outside Washington County, preemptively strike witnesses, and for the lead prosecutor to withdraw himself from case. "We have to keep raising these issues to protect our clients' interest, and we will continue to do so throughout the summer," adds Randy Fallin.
Fallin is the defense attorney for Barbara Potter; he tells us all this stems from a letter to the editor published in February in a local newspaper, endorsing lead prosecutor Dennis Brooks for circuit court judge. The letter was written by one of the state's witnesses, Christie Groover, who is Barbara Potter's oldest daughter and Jenelle's sister.
Brooks doesn't think the letter should be an issue. "In that letter she did not say who she was the daughter of. She did not say the name of the case she was talking about. She did not say anything about Facebook or all of the things people may have associated with these defendants," says Brooks.
"Personally, I have found Dennis to be more 'human' than other prosecutors I've worked with in the past," Groover said in the letter. "He strives to maintain professionalism while balancing it with empathy and compassion where necessary. I say this because Dennis prosecuted my father, and I feel he was consistently up-front and honest throughout my dealings with him." Click here to read the full letter on JohnsonCityPress.com.
"The court indicated they would give us a lot of leeway to question her about that at the time she does testify, so I feel satisfied we'll be taking care of it at that account," adds Fallin.
The judge ruled Groover could be a witness.
The second motion is to get Brooks to withdraw from the case because he posted the letter Groover wrote to his personal Facebook page, as well as his campaign page. "The publicity surrounding the judicial race and the article was prominently displayed with his campaign ads on his own Facebook and his campaign website. We were concerned about that, that's why we brought it to the court's attention," says Fallin.
"They can show nothing where I have spoken about these three pending defendants that are awaiting trial. I have only spoken of the one who was convicted," adds Brooks.
The judge allowed Brooks to stay on the case.
The final motion to move the trial from Washington County, Tennessee. The defense claimed their clients wouldn't receive a fair trial because of publicity from Brook's election, but the judge didn't change the location.
Both the prosecution and defense tell us they are preparing for the case and will be ready in August. The trial is set to start August 12 in Washington County, Tennessee.