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Facebook murders case back in court to correct sentence error, but won't affect life in prison

Becky Campbell • May 1, 2019 at 9:37 PM

A mother and daughter serving two life prison sentences appeared in a Washington County courtroom Wednesday to correct an error on the judgment that merged the murder convictions with a conspiracy to commit murder conviction, but the technical error will have no impact on their sentences.

Jenelle Potter, 38, and her mother, Barbara Potter, 68, were convicted in May 2015 in the brutal murders of Bill Payne, 36, and Billie Jean Hayworth, 23, inside the couple’s Johnson County home. Barbara Potter’s husband, Marvin “Buddy” Potter, was also tried and convicted in the murders. 

The case revolved around friendships that went sour and the murders were dubbed as the Facebook murders because Payne and Hayworth unfriended Jenelle Potter on the social media site.

In addition to the murders, the three were convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. In the women’s cases, overseen by retired Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, he merged the conspiracy and murder convictions, which was once a rule of law. But that rule was not still valid when the women were convicted.

Prosecutors and the women’s defense attorneys — Cameron Hyder for Jenelle Potter and Randy Fallin for Barbara Potter — had reached an agreed sentence of 15 years on the conspiracy conviction. All three of the women’s sentences are being served concurrently, which means they run together. The Potter women will be eligible for parole in 2071.

Marvin Potter, 67, also received two life sentences, but they are running consecutively, so his parole eligibility date is 2131.

Barbara and Jenelle Potter are serving their sentences at the state women’s prison in Nashville. They asked to be transported back from Washington County as soon as possible.

For more on the case, read past articles at www.JohnsonCityPress.com.

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