That was the decision Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood reached Wednesday in Jonesborough in a motion hearing in the combined trials of Barbara Potter, Janelle Potter and Jamie Curd. The three are accused of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Billy Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth in their home at 128 James Davis Lane in Johnson County on Jan. 31, 2012.
The combined defense team of Randy Fallin, Casey Sears and Cameron Hyder had filed the motion to have a jury brought to Washington County to hear the trial because they argued media reports on the murders would make it difficult to find a jury in the Tri-Cities market.
Blackwood denied the motion, but said he would continue to monitor media coverage to determine whether further attention to the case will cause him to change his mind.
In a previous motion hearing on Oct. 29, Blackwood had agreed it would not be possible to hold the trial in Johnson County because of the extensive interest of the small community in the case and because Johnson County would not have enough lodging to bring an out-of-county jury to hear the case in Mountain City. Washington County was selected as the best venue for the trial.
In other actions, Blackwood rescheduled the trial from May 12 to Aug. 11.
The trial will be the second of the Facebook Murder trials. Last fall, Marvin Enoch “Buddy” Potter was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Roark and Dennis Brooks argued the murders were a result of a fury towards Payne and Hayworth that raged over the Internet, including emails and Facebook postings between the Potter family and Curd.
The first trial included many email and other Internet postings entered into evidence, which allegedly showed the motive for the slayings. Brooks said in an earlier hearing that there would be much more electronic communication entered into evidence in the second trial.