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Defense, prosecution react to new trial announcement for mother convicted in – WJHL

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — A high-profile murder case that has captured nationwide attention for nearly a decade has a new twist. A new trial will be granted for one of the women convicted in the so-called “Facebook Murders” of Johnson County.

A feud originating on social media led to the brutal murder of a young couple in Mountain City. Now, there is a chance for acquittal for one of the convicted: Barbara Potter.

Barbara, her husband Marvin “Buddy” Potter and their daughter Jenelle Potter were all convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 deaths of Bill Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth.

Marvin Potter was convicted in his 2013 trial while the two women were tried together in 2015.

All three family members were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

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“I don’t believe she is guilty. I do not believe that,” said Scott Shults, Barbara Potter’s current attorney.

Shults argued in a post-conviction hearing spanning July 14 and 15 in Washington County court that there were issues with Barbara’s original trial attorney, Randy Fallin.

“If there was a legitimate conflict of interest, which there was here, and it affected her attorney’s ability to represent her, which it did, that prejudice standard is presumed,” said Shults.

Fallin represented Barbara Potter in trial after representing her husband Marvin Potter in his murder trial. Though they were tried together, Jenelle Potter was represented by attorney Cameron Hyder.

Judge William B. Acree ordered Wednesday there was in fact a conflict of interest based on Mr. Fallin’s representation of both the husband and wife and granted a new trial for Barbara.

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“She was denied due process. You are entitled to a zealous representation. I don’t believe she got that,” said Shults.

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Receiving a new trial on a murder case is extremely rare.

“An overwhelming majority of them are denied, you never hear about them being granted. I realized the odds were against her getting this. But, if there was one to be granted, it was this one,” said Shults.

Assistant District Attorney General for the prosecution Dennis Brooks says when he learned the judge approved a new trial – he was shocked.

He led the state’s case in 2015 against the mother-daughter duo.

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“We are back to square one trying Barbara Potter and a second jury will hear the same evidence, maybe even more, because we are not having to focus on Jenelle Potter in the same trial,” said Brooks.

Brooks says the state will again pursue a first-degree murder charge and life in prison for Barbara. He added his focus remains on the family of the victims, Bill Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth. The infant child of the two was left alive during the brutal attacks in his mother’s arms as she died.

“This just reopens the wound for them. They hoped to have had closure and now they don’t. So, that’s my focus now so we can get to a second trial as fast as we can and give them justice once more,” said Brooks.

In the post-conviction hearing in July, Marvin Potter admitted in testimony given in court for the very first time he and his convicted accomplice Jamie Curd were solely responsible for the murders.

Potter testified that he killed Payne, “accidentally” shooting him and then slitting his throat, and he says Curd killed Hayworth.

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However, the judge’s court order notes, “The Court finds all witnesses who testified at this hearing to be credible except for Marvin Potter, whose credibility concerning his testimony about the killings was suspect.”

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Jenelle and Barbara were not at the scene of the murder – but were convicted for what the prosecution outlined in trial as their role in helping conspire, plan and encourage the murders.

Messages exchanged on social media and alleged harassment between the Potters and the victims ultimately led to their deaths.

Shults says he believes Marvin Potter and his testimony could sway a jury in a new trial. He was not called to testify in the joint trial for Barbara and Jenelle in 2015.

“Marvin will confirm that Barbara did not aide or solicit or request that he commit this crime,” said Shults.

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Shults has not been appointed to represent Barbara Potter in her new trial. He says if requested by the court, he will, and he plans to call Marvin Potter to testify.

The prosecution maintains that there is enough evidence to prove Barbara’s guilt in these murders.

Jenelle Potter’s request for a new trial was denied.

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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