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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Relief the prevailing feeling in murder case aftermath

Thursday, August 25, 2011

(Photo)
In an old TV commercial, Speedy Alka-Seltzer would remind us "relief is just a swallow away." Old advice is apparently still good advice.

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter and others swallowed hard Tuesday, holding their collective breath as Judge Andrea McCord announced her ruling in the William Minnick resentencing.

And today, relief is the overwhelming feeling they are experiencing as Minnick was sentenced to 160 years in prison for the 1981 murder, rape and robbery of Martha Payne, a 24-year-old Greencastle woman.

"My feeling is definitely one of relief," Bookwalter conceded Wednesday after having 24 hours to digest Tuesday's four-hour hearing in Lawrence Circuit Court at Bedford.

And he detects the same feeling all around, from former Putnam Prosecutor Del Brewer to the man on the street to the law enforcement officials involved in the 30-year-old case.

"Del seems relieved," Bookwalter said of the Greencastle attorney who put Minnick on trial twice and won both times. "The community seems relieved, and the officers all seem relieved."

Pausing to consider the events of Tuesday, Bookwalter's thoughts immediately went to the Payne family.

"I hope in some way this brings at least legal closure for Jim, and for Martha's family.

"There will never be closure to the pain and loss, we know that. That will never go away. But there has always been this uneasiness with what's gone on in the legal system."

After all when Judge McCord sentenced the now 48-year-old Minnick to what amounts to an additional 50 years in prison, she became the fourth judge (Ernest Yelton, Linda Chezem and David McIntyre before her) to impose sentence on the former Greencastle man.

Bookwalter was impressed with the judge's meticulous five-page order of sentence.

"It was well reasoned and very detailed," he said, indicating it seemed apparent she knew the sentence order would be closely scrutinized if and when an appeal is considered.

A day later, Bookwalter was also able to shed a little more light on how the proceedings nearly never got started.

The case was due to be considered at 1:30 p.m., but 15 minutes went by before any of the court officials even entered the courtroom. And when they did, it was only to call for the probation officers sitting in the back of the room.

Twenty minutes later Bookwalter emerged from the judge's chambers to tell the Payne family Minnick did not want to come out and "was going crazy in the cell back there."

Minnick reportedly became physically disruptive upon learning that a packet of papers he had mailed from the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City had not been received in time by the court.

Minnick also sent his attorney, Monica Foster, out to ask his pen-pal girlfriend Karen Groff to leave the courtroom lest she hear bad things about him.

"We came within an inch of him not going in there (the courtroom)," Bookwalter said, admitting he had begun to agonize over what he might have to tell the Payne family that was gathered in the courtroom gallery.

"The defense lawyers did not want him in that courtroom," he said.

And Bookwalter certainly didn't want to tell the Paynes the long-awaited proceedings would have to be postponed.

The defense was still trying to play the mentally ill card at that point. They seemed unsure of what Minnick might say or do in the courtroom and tried in vain to convince Judge McCord that he was incompetent to participate in his own defense.

"Yet when he walked in," Bookwalter said, "he was a perfect gentleman."

Regardless, Bookwalter said he altered his strategy, and felt like he was walking on eggshells in presenting his case at the outset.

"I was originally intending to start by calling (retired Indiana State Police Det.) Dick Rice and (former Putnam Deputy) Jim Hendrich first, but I thought that might set him off. So I changed up and started with Martha's mother (Eleanor Royer) and sister (Sharon Powell).

"We really never talked about Minnick. We focused on Martha."

Instead of being disruptive in court, Minnick appeared to be listening intently as Mrs. Royer, Mrs. Powell and then Jim Payne detailed how the gruesome murder of their daughter, sister and wife has affected their lives.

"I think he got a little empathetic -- if he can be empathetic -- when he heard the family on the stand," Bookwalter said of Minnick.

"Still," the prosecutor said, "the weirdest thing to me is when he started talking. When they got him up on the stand, he just kind of took off from there.

"I still think he was just about to say that he did it."

Minnick indirectly apologized to the Payne family and alluded to past indiscretions that he wished he could change.

At one point in the monologue, one of the members of his defense team seemed to close her laptop in disgust at what her client was saying in open court.

But he never actually pointed the finger at himself, despite noting that "you can't tell a victim's family you're sorry because the state will use that against you."

Minnick told the judge he plans to appeal her 160-year sentence that will keep him in prison until he's 98 if it stands.


Comments
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Get ready for another appeal. This saga will never end until this murderer dies. Even then, the pain of it all will remain. Thank you, judge McCord for doing what needed to be done.

-- Posted by not gullible on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 9:17 AM

Don't he look good in stripes? :-)

-- Posted by whats-my-beef on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 9:44 AM

Why did'nt the upstairs tenant in the Payne house testify? There was a young woman living there.

-- Posted by Foxridge on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 10:48 AM

I think it was a wise move to start with the family on the stand. It seems it made him think about the others he hurt and made him somewhat remorseful. It isn't complete closure for the family, I am sure. It has to be better to hear him indirectly admit to what he is accused for, and to apologize. It is so sad to see the family/friends have to go through this over and over.

-- Posted by AmyJo1968 on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 11:45 AM

i have went to church with bill when he was a kid and i just don't see him doing this crime. I think the husband and his girlfriend upstairs did it for martha's money. I feel sorry for martha's family, I lost my son so I know what they are going through but I just can't believe bill did it I never have believed and I never will.

-- Posted by norarose4 on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 12:06 PM

norarose4,

martha didn't have any money, she would have been entitled to $30,000 from her deceased father's trust when she turned 25 and another $30,000 when she turned 30. i believe she was 24 when she died. wouldn't you think mr. payne would have waited for martha to turn 25 before he would consider killing her? so please shut up.

-- Posted by insidetrack on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 2:09 PM

@norarose, read the evidence, you have a right to believe what you want, but he did it plain and simple.. It is hard to believe that as kid you knew, he would grow up to be so evil, but it happens all the time.. He did it, and the evidence speaks for it self. This will just go on and on, until he dies a miserable old man. Death is too easy, he needs to suffer, too bad it is as a burden to us tax payers...

-- Posted by skater chic on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 3:49 PM

The only person that knows for sure about Minnick's guilt is Minnick. The State successfully convinced a jury of his peers of his guilt and the rest is history. If you get a speeding ticket and contest it in court because you were not speeding, it makes you guilty if the judge rules against you. You can deny it all you want but in the end the result is the same. We all hope to get wiser and hopefully more tolerant of others shortcomings as we get older. Maybe one day Minnick will admit to his guilt if it is truly so. An eye for an eye went out with the New Covenant of the New Testament. Be careful what you wish for someone else as it may come back to haunt you.

-- Posted by Vernie1 on Thu, Aug 25, 2011, at 8:06 PM

I DON'T BELIEVE BILL MINNICK IS CAPABLE OF REMORSE. I THINK HE IS SORRY HE GOT CAUGHT AND ARRESTED, AND I THINK HE FEELS SORRY FOR HIMSELF. NORAROSE4 IS LIVING IN A FANTASY WORLD, AS UNFORTUNATELY THE "GOOD KIDS" YOU KNEW IN YEARS PAST TURN INTO "BAD ADULTS." I'M SURE TED BUNDY AND JOHN WAYNE GACY WERE "GOOD KIDS" AT ONE TIME TOO. THE EVIDENCE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF....HE IS GUILTY AND DEFINITELY NEEDED TO BE SENTENCED TO DEATH. I PRAY FOR JIM PAYNE'S FAMILY AND MARTHA PAYNE'S FAMILY. HOPEFULLY THIS WILL GIVE THEM SOME CLOSURE.

-- Posted by Michele1953 on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 8:41 AM

The only person that knows for sure about Minnick's guilt is Minnick.

smartest comment.

@

Michele1953 ,all i can say is STUPID

-- Posted by carebuttonbroke on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 4:43 PM

carebuttonbroke,

Michelle1953 made probably the most accurate statement of anyone in this string. the only other person that really new what happended is dead; Martha.

-- Posted by insidetrack on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 4:55 PM

TO INSIDETRACK THANK YOU......TO CAREBUTTONBROKE, YES, YOU ARE STUPID.

-- Posted by Michele1953 on Fri, Aug 26, 2011, at 7:14 PM

I don't know what we gained. Now we have to keep him for the rest of his life. Why not just give him the chair. Everyone but him believes he done it.

-- Posted by wrinklenose on Sun, Aug 28, 2011, at 4:30 PM


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