The Richmond Register

Crime

January 17, 2013

Judge, attorneys discuss details of upcoming murder trials

No decision made about death penalty in Warford, Walker double-homicide

RICHMOND —

Brief hearings were conducted Wednesday afternoon in which Judge Jean C. Logue and attorneys briefly discussed the details of two upcoming murder trials.

John Payne, 39, is scheduled for a two-week trial starting April 15. He is accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend, Meredith King, and his mother, Cornelia Gayle Mullins, 55, in November 2010.

Payne is charged with two counts of murder and one count each of theft by unlawful taking and convicted felon in possession of a handgun.

Although it was announced at a prior status hearing, Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith reminded the court that unless the case is resolved prior to trial, he is seeking the death penalty.

Logue noted that because of the length of the trial and the nature of the punishment sought by the prosecution, a larger-than-usual jury pool will need to be summoned.

Smith said after the hearing that about 90 people are usually summoned at a time for jury duty, and he expected at least triple that number to be called for the Payne trial.

Smith said he and Payne’s attorney, Brian Barker, still need to sit down and go over the discovery in the case.

“I just want to make sure he’s got it all,” Smith said.

Logue set the next status conference in the case for Feb. 8. She said there would be more discussion about the jury pool at that hearing.



Hearing in Warford, Walker double-homicide

Matthew Denholm, 28, and Daniel Keene, 27, appeared in court for Wednesday’s second status hearing. The two men are accused of taking money to kill Charles Walker, 30.

The bodies of Walker and his girlfriend, Sonsaray Warford, also 30, were found in shallow graves off Tates Creek Road in March 2012. The couple had been missing since June 2010.

A jury trial in the case is set for Aug. 12, and it’s expected to take two to three weeks. Denholm and Keene are charged with two counts each of murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. They face one count each of first-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence.

Logue asked Smith if a decision had been made on whether the prosecution would seek the death penalty in the case.

Smith said Keene and Denholm’s attorneys had asked that the discovery process be completed before anything was filed concerning the death penalty.

“It’s moving slowly, but it’s moving,” Smith said.

Another status hearing in the case is set for 10 a.m. April 19.



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

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