The Richmond Register

Local News

June 12, 2011

Trial date is set in double murder case

RICHMOND — Clad in white T-shirts bearing a large photo of murder victim Meredith King, friends and family members of the slain Richmond woman filled two rows of seats Friday in the Madison Circuit Courtroom.

The group attends each court hearing for John Payne, the man police say killed King, who was his girlfriend, and his mother, Cornelia Mullins, 55. Their bodies were discovered Dec. 4 in different areas of the Hillsdale Avenue home the victims shared with him.

“We’re here every time. Usually about 30 of us,” said Sharlene Evans, King’s mother.

Until Friday, not much had happened at Payne’s hearings, Evans said.

“They just keep setting new dates,” she said. “It’s fine with us as long as he stays in jail,” she said.

On Friday, Judge Jean Chenault Logue set Payne for trial on Dec. 5. The trial is expected to take at least two weeks.

Although both the prosecution and defense are unsure if they will be ready for trial by Dec. 5 – defense attorney Meena Mohanty said they have not yet received a copy of the autopsy or ballistics reports – Logue said the time needed to be reserved for the trial.

“It may be that we get to October and realized we’re not going to be ready,” Logue said. A new trial date can be set then, she said.

Payne was taken into custody Dec. 4 at the Days Inn in Berea, after Berea police were dispatched to investigate an anonymous report that a non-compliant sex offender had booked a room there, said Detective Keith Daniel of the Richmond Police Department, when he testified in a district court hearing in the case.

When Payne met the Berea officers at his motel room door, he immediately told them he had shot Mullins and King, the detective testified.

Berea officers notified Richmond police, who sent a patrol officer to conduct a welfare check at the Hillsdale Avenue home, while Payne was transported to RPD headquarters.

Officers performing the welfare check did not receive response from anyone inside the home, and they summoned help from the Richmond Fire Department to break the home’s locked door, Daniel said.

Once inside, officers discovered the two women, who had been dead for “a little less than a week,” police said.

Daniel said Payne confessed to shooting Mullins and King. After shooting the women, Payne said he took Mullins’ car and drove to the Berea motel.

The car was found in the Days Inn parking lot with two handguns and a lockbox inside, the detective said.

The grand jury indicted Payne on two counts of murder, a capital offense; theft by unlawful taking, a Class D felony; convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a Class C felony; and first-degree persistent felony offender, a Class B felony.

Payne previously was convicted of third-degree rape of a 15-year-old, according to the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry.

If convicted of all charges, Payne could face the death penalty.

Lorie Love Hailey can be reached at or 624-6690.

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