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State rests in first Facebook Murders trial; one murder count dismissed

John Thompson • Oct 11, 2013 at 7:21 AM

A Criminal Court judge dismissed one of the murder charges against Marvin Enoch “Buddy” Potter Jr. in the so-called "Facebook murders" trial today in Jonesborough.

Judge John Kerry Blackwood said the state had not made the case for the felony murder charge against Potter and dismissed it, but he denied a defense motion to dismiss the first-degree murder charges, allowing the case to proceed.

State prosecutors had rested their case, and the defense was set to begin its case after a break.

Potter is one of four people charged in the slayings of Billy Clay Payne, 36, and Billie Jean Hayworth, 23, who were found shot to death Jan. 31, 2012, at 128 James Davis Lane in Mountain City. Potter is the first of the defendants to be tried for the killings. His trial was moved from Johnson County to Washington County.

He was arrested a week after the bodies were discovered and charged along with Jamie Lee Curd, who is scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 9.

A Johnson County grand jury in August returned presentments against Potter's wife and daughter, Barbara Mae Potter and Janelle Leigh Potter. Each has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

The case was the subject of worldwide interest on the Internet and made front page in newspapers around the globe because of the brutal nature of the slayings and their unusual motive. The slayings allegedly took place because Payne and Hayworth had “defriended” Janelle Potter on their Facebook account.

Wednesday's testimony.