UPDATE: Marvin Potter sentenced to two life sentences for double murder

Marvin Potter

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - Update, Friday, October 11, 2013 at 11:30 p.m.

A Johnson County man found guilty of killing a couple is headed to prison for a very long time. Prosecutors say the motive for murder was a Facebook feud.

After three hours of deliberation, the jury found Marvin "Buddy" Potter guilty on two counts of first degree murder for the 2012 killing of Billy Payne Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth. Investigators say Potter murdered them because they unfriended Potter's adult daughter on Facebook.

Both family and friends were crying in court, hugging, and some say justice was served.

The judge sentenced Potter to two life sentences. A judge will decide if Potter will serve the life sentences at the same time or back-to-back in Mountain City on October 29.

Update: Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.: In day four of the Facebook murder trial the prosecution rested its case and the defense got their chance to call witnesses to the stand.

The prosecution accused Marvin "Buddy" Potter of killing Billy Payne Junior and Billie Jean Hayworth.

The defense says Potter didn't kill the couple, instead saying it was someone they knew or a drug deal gone bad.

On Thursday the prosecution called Chief Deputy Joe Woodard with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.

He was in the Potter home when the search warrant was issued and saw Potter's wife Barbara ripping up pictures of Billie Jean Hayworth and her friend.

Potter's older estranged daughter, Christie Groover, took the stand for the prosecution talking about her rocky relationship with her parents Barbara and Marvin Potter. Groover also talked about her sister Jenelle's mental state.

Next the state called J.D. Winebarger, who worked at a local grocery store and didn't know the Potters or the victims, but says the Potters would talk with him about the victims and their problems.

The defense then had their chance to call witnesses. Several of them talked about Payne and how they would occasionally buy pills from him.

One of Payne's friends talked about the meeting between Payne and the Potter family where they settled their differences.

David C. Williams testified, "From my observation was that if there was an issue that they would contact each other and handle it".

The defense will continue to call witnesses on Friday.

UPDATE AT 2:08: News 5 WCYB's Lyndsey Pricetells us the prosecution has restedits case as of 2:00 Wednesday afternoon.

The defendant Marvin "Buddy" Potter has been read his rights. He does not have to testify in the trial, but if he wishes to do so, he can.

We are waiting for the defense to start its case. We'll continue to update you on air and online with the latest facts from the courtroom.


Testimony from the prosecution will continue Thursday in a double murder trial involving a man accused of shooting two people, because they unfriended his adult daughter on Facebook.

The highlight of testimony Wednesday came when a recorded phone call was played and in it the defendant admits he had some role in the deaths of a Mountain City couple.

On Wednesday the trial started with the defense asking Judge Jon Kerry Blackwell for mistrial after a witness did an interview with a local media outlet.

The judge Jon Kerry Blackwell called the witnesses into the courtroom and gave them a stern warning. "You can not talk to anybody else about this case nor can you grant any interviews or can you be seen on television," he said.

Jurors then began watching a nearly three hour video of TennesseeBureau of Investigation agents interviewing the defendant Marvin 'Buddy' Potter, the man who is charged with two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Billie Jean Hayworth and Billy Payne, Jr.

After the video prosecutors played a recorded phone call between Potter and his wife, which said, "Before you find out from someone else I want you to know I was involved in it. I did it."

After a long lunch break court resumed with emails investigators found shredded in the back of Potter's truck. It took TBI Investigators a month to put the shredded documents back together and they reveal conversations that prosecutors feel will help their case.

During cross examination TBI Agent Scott Lott talked about the conversation he had with Potter. Lott stated, "He said he was involved, he did, but you never did find out how or what from him. He never did provide details."

The day wrapped with wittiness testimony from a friend of Billie Jean Hayworth who says she only had one enemy and that was Jenelle Potter, the daughter ofthe man on trial.

The trial could last through the week or longer.

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