Black Woman Judge to Decide Fate of Vigilante Who Shot, Killed Man Following Hit-and-Run Incident

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Hannah Payne, the Atlanta-area woman charged with murder in the fatal shooting of an older Black man following a confrontation in a hit-and-run incident, won’t face a judge until February 2020.

The Clayton News Daily reports Payne’s trial is delayed because Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner Dr. Stacy Desamours is on medical leave. Desamours is also a material state’s witness in the case.

Hannah Payne
Hannah Payne (right) is accused of murder after gunning down 62-year-old Kenneth Herring (left) after a hit-and-run collision on May 7. (Images courtesy of WSB TV)

Black women will play a prominent role in deciding the young woman’s fate, as the case will go before Clayton County Superior Court Judge Shana Rooks Malone early next year. Malone, like the state’s witness Desamours, is African-American. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also recently appointed Black woman Tasha Mosley as the county’s new district attorney.

“Clayton County, 11 years ago, I made a promise to you that I would be here, that I would always listen to you, that I would stand in the gap [and] protect you,” Mosley said during her swearing in in October. “My word is bond. And it remains the same.”

Payne, 22, faces two counts of felony murder in the May 7 death of 62-year-old Kenneth Herring, among a slew of other charges. Prosecutors said the Fayetteville woman assumed the role of police when she pursued Herring after he left the scene of a wreck with a truck.

Payne called 911 as she tailed Herring’s car for about a mile in the metro Atlanta suburb of Clayton County, ultimately blocking him with her Jeep and confronting him with a handgun. Ignoring the instructions of a 911 dispatcher who told her to remain at the scene of the initial crash,  Payne instead followed the man and engaged him in a scuffle that ended with Herring being shot in the chest.

Those who witnessed the incident recalled seeing Payne “punching” the older driver, who prosecutors said may have been suffering a medical emergency at the time.

Payne’s attorney, Matt Tucker, painted his client as a “good Samaritan” and  argued she acted in self-defense. Based on the evidence, however, prosecutors said it was clear Payne — whose car wasn’t involved in the initial wreck — was the aggressor in the situation.

Payne’s family has said she carried a gun for protection. Police also confirmed she had a concealed carry license.

“Just everyday protections, you know, the society that we live in today,” her mother, Margaret Payne, told the News Daily. “You hear about it every day on the news. Innocent people are getting shot, innocent people are getting broken into.”

Payne has been granted bond twice since her arrest; first in June and then again in September, months after she was re-arrested on additional charges in Herring’s killing. Those charges include malice murder, felony murder aggravated assault, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm during a felony.

Payne’s trial has been set for Feb. 11, 2020.

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