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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Minnick surprises with comments on witness stand

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Now 48 years old with gray in his temples and beard, William Minnick presents a quite different picture from the Greencastle teenager who was convicted of the 1981 murder, rape and robbery of Martha Payne.
BEDFORD -- The enduring image of William Minnick is perhaps one of a Greencastle teenager. Thin, smug, defiant.

Tuesday in Lawrence Circuit Court at Bedford it was quite a different 48-year-old Minnick presented with defending the rest of his natural life.

Hair in a ponytail with gray in his temples and scraggly beard, a stout Minnick peered through and over his glasses at the parade of witnesses who spoke of unspeakable acts linked to him.

After being unable to sit through testimony by Jim Hendrich -- the former Putnam deputy who helped question Minnick and obtain a taped confession the day after the Martha Payne murder on Oct. 26, 1981 -- Minnick took the witness stand himself.

It marked an unusual turn of events in the proceedings, which began with a one-hour delay because Minnick had become physically disruptive in the cell behind the courtroom of Judge Andrea McCord.

Court officials feared the convicted murderer "might go off" once he got inside the courtroom.

The closest he came to that was the intense glare he directed toward Hendrich with the realization questioning might end up getting into the disputed confession and details of the case Minnick didn't want to hear addressed at the resentencing hearing.

His attorney, Monica Foster, asked for a break at 3:30 p.m., one hour into the proceedings, to discuss the situation in more detail with her client.

When they re-emerged, she explained that Minnick was adamant about her questioning Hendrich in a manner she said might border on malpractice. She refused to proceed with that line of questioning and Hendrich stepped down.

Instead, Minnick took the stand as his brother Earl Minnick sat in the courtroom and Karen Groff, the prison pen pal he asked the court (and was denied) permission to marry, out in the hallway.

Judge McCord asked the twice-convicted murderer what he would consider an appropriate sentence in the case.

"I don't know what I can say an appropriate sentence would be," he acknowledged before launching into a monologue about old rulings and issues about judges (like he believes Linda Chezem did in 1985) "going around the jury's recommendation."

Minnick quickly shifted gears and talked about himself and the past.

"I think, you know, you can't change the past," he offered. "I wish I could."

He told the court he grew up with a stepfather who was a child molester (although his mother and stepfather refuted that claim at an earlier hearing).

"I know what it is to be a victim," he said, claiming he was sexually assaulted by his stepfather as a young boy.

"I don't know what the appropriate sentence is," Minnick reiterated. "If a person could go back and change the past ... but you can't tell a victim's family that you're sorry because the state will use that against you."

His voice cracking, Minnick sobbed and said he has gotten to "another stage in life" where as he hears the victim's family testify, it affects him.

"I feel the guilt. I feel the loss. I feel the hurt," he said, stopping just short of confessing to the crimes he has been convicted of.

"I know you can't change the past, Lord knows I wish you could. I'm 48 years old now. I got locked up when I was 18."

He spoke of seeing others on Death Row say their tearful goodbyes and watching helplessly as they became dead men walking to their executions.

"I have been in prison 30 years," he said. "People you have spent half your life with are being executed, and you know they are not the same people they were when they were locked up. They've changed, and if they'd gotten out, they'd be changed."

Minnick stopped short of saying he himself deserved to be released.

"I do want this case over with," he said. "I do want the grieving process stopped.

"The pain is there," Minnick added. "The pain's all the way around."

Tearfully, he concluded his remarks by sobbing, "I don't know ... I don't know."

Did Jim Payne think it sounded as though the man responsible for his worst nightmare was at last confessing in open court to the rape, robbery and murder of Martha Payne?

"Yes, we did," Payne said. "After all these years, I believe he was just about ready to say he did it. We've been told he had convinced himself over the years that he didn't do it, but we never really believed that."

Neither had Putnam Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter.

"He came this close to saying he did it," Bookwalter said, holding his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.

Granted, Minnick didn't say it. But Judge McCord said it for him with a 160-year sentence.

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THANK YOU JUDGE ANDREA MCCORD!! Although it doesn't take away the pain and can't bring Martha back, I believe on some level that justice was served. He will never know the magnitude of sadness and pain that he has inflicted within the family of Martha Payne. And as far as him wanting the 'grieving process over with'.....he has no clue! The family of Martha Payne will never forget. Time moves on, lives continue, but you never forget and the grieving never fully goes away, even with the sense of peace that this hearing brought, it is still there! He may have not completely admitted his guilt, but he came oh so close, and that just seals it.

-- Posted by churchmouse on Wed, Aug 24, 2011, at 11:05 AM

Thank you Lord. As a Christian, I don't believe in capitol punishment,but I do believe in Life behind bars.I remember when this happened and it still saddens me.

-- Posted by interestedperson on Wed, Aug 24, 2011, at 11:47 AM

Minnick's case was handled by GPD and PCSD....the REAL Keystone Cops if they ever existed!!

-- Posted by firebreathinglocomotive on Wed, Aug 24, 2011, at 4:09 PM

Thank you Banner-Graphic, for following up on this case and covering it well.

-- Posted by not gullible on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 9:39 AM

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