samantha payne murder trial

Witnesses told the jury today that the man charged with killing Samantha Payne in 2015 tried sending letters urging another woman involved in Payne’s death to keep quiet from jail.

March 12 marked the second full day of testimony in Michael Belcher’s capital murder trial. He’s the fifth and final suspect charged in Payne’s 2015 murder.

Her headless body was found tied to a tree in the Talladega National Forest, and although four other suspects were involved in her death, investigators have suspected Belcher as their ringleader since day one.

Also accused and convicted in her murder are Steven and Marcus George, Chylli Bruce and Alyssa Watson. Marcus George and Watson are serving 30-year sentences in state prisons for their involvement in this case. Steven George is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole and Bruce is serving a 20-year split sentence.

Today, calls between then-jailed Belcher and family members were played as evidence. During those calls, Belcher was trying to get family members on the outside to sent letters to Bruce, who was also in jail. Those letters were requesting Bruce keep quiet about Payne’s murder.

Monday, co-suspects Steven George and Bruce told the court how Payne was tortured and beaten beyond recognition before they stuffed her in Belcher’s trunk and took her into the forest. That’s where Bruce said Belcher tied Payne to a tree and stabbed her in the throat.

Also today, several law enforcement investigators and Belcher’s father were called to the stand. Investigators showed the jury Payne’s clothing, found in the woods, her fingernails, part of the tree she was tied to and the cables and shoe strings used to bind Payne’s hands and feet.

This is the first time in nearly a decade prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Tuscaloosa County.

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