By Max Hrenda
JONESBOROUGH — Prosecutors continued to explore the strained relationship between two Mountain City families that they believe led to the deaths of a Mountain City couple.
During the fourth day of the trial of Marvin Enoch Potter Jr., the state called several witnesses to the stand to testify about the relationship between the Potter family and Billy Clay Payne Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth.
The most damning piece of that testimony would come from the prosecution’s last witness, however, as Jerry Winebarger told the court about a conversation he had with Potter.
“He said, ‘If I ever get the chance, I’d put a bullet in Bill’s head,’” Winebarger said.
Payne and Hayworth were found dead from gunshot wounds in their home at 128 James Davis Lane in Mountain City on Jan. 31, 2012. In addition to a gunshot to the face, Payne’s throat was also cut. Their six-month-old son, Tyler, was discovered alive, cradled in Hayworth’s arms.
Eight days later, Potter was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after an associate, Jamie Lynn Curd, told investigators that he and Potter carried out the acts, with Potter acting as the gunman and Curd cutting Payne’s throat.
Curd recanted that statement the next day, saying instead that Potter only told him about the crime, and he was not present when it happened. He has also been charged with the murders of Payne and Hayworth.
In the investigation’s early stages, however, law enforcement officials testified that they sought out anyone who was known to have ill will toward Payne and Hayworth. As testimony would later reveal, that led them to Curd and the Potter family.