Tuscaloosa County jury recommends death penalty in capital murder case

Tuscaloosa County jury recommends death penalty in capital murder case
Michael Belcher

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - It took jurors just a couple of hours on Monday to agree unanimously that Michael Belcher should die for the role he played in Samantha Payne’s murder.

She was severely beaten and tortured before Belcher and others killed her in Tuscaloosa County’s Talladega National Forest in 2015.

We talked to Payne’s mother before the jury recommended Belcher face the death penalty.

“Our life has been forever changed. It will never be the same. Just the fact of knowing that she’s gone and that I suppose is a torture that we’re going to have to live with from now on,” Susanne Payne explained.

Belcher was the only one of the five people charged in Payne’s killing to face the death penalty.

Belcher’s mother spoke up in his defense and his defense attorney showed pictures of him as a child in hopes swaying the jury to consider life without parole instead of death.

Payne’s mother told WBRC she’d be happy with whatever the jury decided.

“Either of the sentences is perfectly fine with me. Life in prison without parole, that’s not much of a life,” said Payne.

Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge Brad Almond has the final say so on Belcher’s fate. He could agree with the jury’s recommendation or decide a sentence of life without the possibility of parole on April 3.

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