Court of Criminal Appeals grants stay of appeal for Jenelle Potter

Becky Campbell • Aug 12, 2016 at 8:21 PM

An appellate court judge granted a stay in the appeal for a woman convicted along with her parents in a double murder.

Jenelle Potter, 36, and her parents, Marvin “Buddy” and Barbara Potter, were all convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the Jan. 31, 2012, shooting deaths of Bill Payne, 36, and Billie Jean Hayworth, 23, inside that couple’s Johnson County home. All three Potters are serving two life sentences. Jenelle Potter’s request for a stay is based on what her attorney says is new evidence that came to light in a true-crime novel the prosecutor published less than a year after the convictions.

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr. signed the order staying Jenelle Potter’s appeal Wednesday.

Jenelle Potter’s petition for writ of coram nobis follows one filed by her mother’s attorneys, Randy Fallin and Tate Davis. Additionally, Jenelle Potter wants a judge to appoint her trial attorney, Cameron Hyder, to represent her in the coram nobis.

The new evidence attorneys said they discovered was the existence of video from cameras placed in and around the Potter home to help document the family’s allegations that Jenelle Potter was being targeted by Hayworth and her friends. 

Barbara Potter’s petition claims that had the defense known about statements co-defendant Jamie Curd — who testified against both women — made to investigators and the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks, they would have approached the case differently. Those statements were revealed in Brooks’ book, “Too Pretty To Live,” which was released in January.

“The whole tenor of the trial would have been different,” Fallin said. “The book Dennis wrote, we read it and there was stuff in there we didn’t know about.”

The case started with the  shooting deaths of Payne and Hayworth. Before the slayings, Payne had befriended Jenelle Potter. Through Payne, Jenelle Potter met Jamie Curd and after Payne began dating Hayworth, Jenelle developed a crush on Curd.

But Jenelle Potter was jealous of Payne and Hayworth’s relationship. Witnesses in the case said each side harassed the other.

The situation played out on social media, including Facebook and the gossip site Topix. Jenelle Potter said she had a protector of sorts, a man named Chris, who was in the CIA and was watching out for her safety.

Prosecutors said Jenelle convinced Curd and her parents that Chris was a real person, and while he wanted to ultimately take care of the situation, he couldn’t, so Curd and Marvin Potter did.

All three Potters have were convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Curd made a deal with prosecutors to testify and plead guilty to facilitation to commit murder in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence.

Marvin Potter’s convictions and sentence have been upheld by the Court of Criminal Appeals. There is no indication he can join in the coram nobis. He was also represented by Fallin.

Brooks has declined to comment on the petitions filed by the Potter women, simply saying he will respond in court.

Before any hearing can be held, the Administrative Office of the Courts must appoint a new judge to the case. Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood presided over both murder trials, but he has fully retired now. Once a judge is appointed to the case, a hearing date can be set.

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