By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
Attorneys representing John Payne are facing a deadline next week to tell Madison Circuit Judge Jean C. Logue whether jury preparations need to begin for the death-penalty case.
Payne appeared in court Friday morning for a brief status hearing. Logue told Payne’s attorneys they have until Thursday to tell her if the trial is moving forward.
Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith filed notice last year that he would seek the death penalty for Payne if a jury convicts him of murdering Meredith King and Cornelia Gayle Mullins.
King was Payne’s girlfriend, and Mullins was his mother. He is accused of shooting the two women to death in November 2010.
Because this is a death-penalty case, preparations must start this month to summon a large-enough jury pool, according to Logue.
Usually about 90 people end up eligible to serve jury duty each time summons are sent out, Smith said last month. He expected at least triple that number to be called for the Payne trial.
Defense attorney Brian Barker and Smith said they needed a few more days to go over materials related to the case before any decisions could be made.
Instead of setting another status hearing, Logue asked the attorneys to let her know by next week if she needed to start work on the jury panel.
“Let us know by some point by Thursday if this will be a trial,” Logue said.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6694.