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Murder Trial For White Woman Who Shot Atlanta Black Man Begins

Jury selection for the long-delayed murder trial of Hannah Payne has begun.

Atlanta Black Star reports the long-awaited murder trial of Hannah Payne, who faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, has begun jury selection.

In May 2019, Payne, then 21, shot 67-year-old Kenneth Herring after a hit-and-run accident in suburban Atlanta, prosecutors and witnesses say.

Payne witnessed a minor collision involving Herring’s car and a tractor-trailer. Instead of following dispatchers’ instructions not to pursue or confront the driver, Payne tailed Herring. Prosecutors suggested that Herring might have left the scene to drive himself to the hospital due to a medical emergency, possibly a diabetic episode.

As Payne caught up with Herring at the intersection of Riverdale Road and Forest Parkway, she allegedly blocked his car with her Jeep and brandished a firearm. Eyewitnesses said Payne physically assaulted Herring and demanded he exit his vehicle. A struggle ensued before Payne shot and killed Herring.

The killing ignited community outrage due to the racial undertones. Payne is white; Herring was Black. Margaret Payne defended her daughter.

“She does not see color,” Margaret Payne said. “She sees right, and she sees wrong. This was an unfortunate situation that turned the way it did, but not at the hands of my daughter. It wasn’t her fault.”

However, Herring’s widow questioned Hannah Payne’s decision to disregard dispatchers’ orders, emphasizing the logical choice of waiting in the car until the police arrived. Payne’s legal team said she shot Herring in self-defense, portraying the incident as a well-intentioned effort by a good Samaritan to intervene in a hit-and-run.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed Payne’s murder trial until November 2022. Then her defense attorney suffered a minor stroke. The case was then assigned to a different judge, so it was postponed further.

Hannah Payne faces the possibility of life in prison, with or without parole.