The Richmond Register

February 17, 2012

October trial date set in double-murder case

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — A man charged with shooting his mother and girlfriend to death will not stand trial until Oct. 8, which also happens to be the birthday of one of his alleged victims.

John E. Payne, 38, is charged with the Dec. 4, 2010, murders of Cornellia Mullins, 55, and Meredith King, 32. The two women were discovered shot to death in the Hillsdale Avenue they shared with him.

Dozens of King’s family members and friends attended Payne’s pretrial hearing Thursday in Madison Circuit Court. However, the afternoon’s cases had to be moved to a smaller courtroom because the sound system was not working. The state requires all felony court appearances be recorded, Judge Jean C. Logue told the audience.

Only a handful of family members were permitted in the third-floor courtroom during Payne’s hearing. They wore T-shirts with King’s picture and purple-and-green memorial ribbons pinned to their chests.

Logue started to assign an April date for Payne’s jury trial, but his attorney, Meena Mohanty, said her co-counsel Sara Zuercher would be on maternity leave starting in April. Logue pushed the trial date back to Oct. 8.

Mohanty asked for another court date because Oct. 8 had been King’s birthday. Logue refused to change the date, stating she would only consider it if the victim’s family had an objection.

At least one family member broke down in tears after the hearing. One person also told Payne, “You remember that date,” as he was being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and ankle shackles.

Payne also is charged with second-degree escape because Madison County Detention Center authorities say he tried to leave the facility Oct. 22. He reportedly made it outside as trash was being taken out, but jail officials quickly caught him.

The case originally was scheduled to be tried in December. However, it was delayed so ballistics and autopsy reports could be completed. Logue declared Payne mentally competent to stand trial earlier this month based on testimony from a state psychiatrist.

Payne is also indicted on two first-degree persistent felony offender charges. He previously was convicted of third-degree rape of a 15-year-old, according to the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry.

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