Murder trial postponed
BCSO, SLED investigating possible intimidation of a trial witness
A murder trial has been postponed due to an allegation of witness intimidation.
Demontay Markeith Payne was supposed to stand trial on August 23 for the May 23, 2015 shooting death of DeVante Quintell Odom on Emerald Lane in Barnwell.
However, Judge Jack Early ordered the case be “continued” until the next term of court as the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office and State Law Enforcement Division investigate a potential case of witness intimidation.
A witness, who did not show up to court, made claims through a third party that he received a threatening Facebook message.
The trial, which was scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m., was postponed until 1 p.m. in the hopes of locating the witness. Since the issue was not resolved by the time court resumed, the judge released the jury and set Sept. 18 as the new trial date.
“We could not get the situation rectified and make sure everyone’s rights are protected,” said Judge Early to the jury as he released them.
Second Judicial Circuit Deputy Solicitor David Miller explained that this was the best option they had. While they could have started the trial and then continued it at a later date if the witness still wasn’t located by the time it was his turn to testify, Miller said that could have created confusion for jurors.
Payne, who was 25 at the time of the crime, is accused of fatally shooting 23-year-old Odom following an altercation between the two men, said Miller. After one altercation, the two went their separate ways but soon met up again and had another altercation. That’s when Odom was shot, said Miller.
However, Payne claims he shot Odom in self-defense because Odom was armed and pulled a gun on him, said Miller. Payne also told authorities that the shooting took place in his yard at 25 Wingo Estates Road. Odom’s body was found in a yard across the street at 550 Emerald Lane.
A hearing under South Carolina’s Stand Your Ground law was held on August 22, but Payne’s claim was denied.