The Richmond Register

Crime

September 19, 2012

Prosecutor to seek death penalty in double-homicide case

RICHMOND — A man accused of murdering his mother and girlfriend in 2010 could be sentenced to the death penalty if he is convicted by a jury.

Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith said Wednesday he will file a motion next week indicating he will seek the death penalty if John Payne’s case goes to trial.

Under Kentucky law, a prosecutor can seek a sentence of death in a murder case only if certain aggravating factors are present in the alleged crime. In Payne’s case, he is accused of killing more than one person, which is one of those factors.

Payne, 38, was set for trial Oct. 8. However, the trial has been pushed back to April 15 so an older murder case can be tried on that date.

Payne’s April trial is expected to last two weeks, Smith said at the status hearing in Madison Circuit Court.

Payne is accused of shooting his mother, Cornelia Gayle Mullins, 55, and girlfriend, Meredith King, 32, to death in the Hillsdale Avenue home the three shared. The women’s bodies were found Dec. 4, 2010 by police.

Judge Jean Chenault Logue ruled in February that Payne was mentally competent to stand trial.

Several of King’s family members wearing ribbons and T-shirts emblazoned with King’s photo attended the status hearing.

Payne also is charged with second-degree escape after detention center officials say he tried to leave the jail Oct. 22 when the trash was being taken out.

Payne is scheduled to be court again at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 20 for another status hearing.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.

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