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Plea Deal Rejected in Slaying of Pastor's Wife

Posted January 2, 2007

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— A judge on Tuesday rejected a plea agreement that would have allowed a Sanford minister charged with killing his wife to serve five years in prison.

Melvin Bynum, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to voluntary manslaughter in connection with the strangulation death of 40-year-old Marnita Bynum, his wife of 19 years.

Authorities found the body of Marnita Bynum, a substitute teacher, in the trunk of her Chrysler Sebring convertible, which had been abandoned on a rural road north of Hamlet, on Aug. 2, 2004.

As part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors, Melvin Bynum was to receive a sentence of five years in prison. But after hearing statements from Marnita Bynam's family about how her death had affected them, District Judge David Lee said he couldn't accept the plea deal.

"Words cannot say what was done to me. I no longer have a child," a sobbing Jacquelyn Carter said. She is Marnita Bynum's mother and wore a shirt with her daughter's picture on it.

"I just want justice for this. He should be punished to the fullest (extent) because this should have never happened," said Jennifer Shannon, Marnita Bynum's cousin.

Melvin Bynum showed no emotion as his in-laws spoke in court. The judge said, however, that it was clear that the plea agreement wasn't appropriate for the crime, a ruling that brought smiles to Marnita Bynum's relatives.

Lee met briefly late Tuesday afternoon with prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss how to proceed with the case, but no decisions were announced.

No further hearings are scheduled in the case, so it's unclear whether Melvin Bynum would enter another plea or whether the case will go to trial.

Melvin Bynum, the pastor of Cry Out Loud Ministries in Sanford, has been in jail in Richmond County since his arrest in September 2004. He was originally charged with first-degree murder in the case and could have faced the death penalty if convicted on that charge.

Investigators said marital difficulties were the likely motive in the slaying.

Melvin Bynum filed for divorce in June 2004. The couple had been legally separated since late 2001, but investigators said they continued to live together in Aberdeen.

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  • ahirshp Jan 3, 2007

    After looking at the past articles attributed to this story I am extremely confused. How did this man go from being charged with First Degree Murder and the prosecutors announcing they planned to seek the Death Penalty if convicted, to pleading guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter with a sentence of 5 years? Something must have happened to make the prosecutors offer & agree to this deal. Personally I believe no leniency should be allowed because he is “a man of the cloth”. He better than anyone knows the difference from right and wrong, and consequences of committing said wrong actions. As a Pastor he is supposed to guide followers and set an example. For goodness sake he taught his church members NOT to do what he did! I believe he should get double whatever penalty he is given just because he is a Pastor, and knows better. What is this world coming to, Pastors killing their wives.

  • diwanicki Jan 3, 2007

    Say he got 20, well he would be able to be paraoled after 5to 7 years. The prisions are so overcrowded. He should get a stiffer sentence, but like someone said what are the terms of the deal?????? We can all state our outrage and opinions. We must ask ourselves this to, What did they need him to tell them to offer him this kind of deal?????Did anyone stop to think that his wife's family may have asked for that sentence? I know I would hope thats not the case as he murdered her.

  • JustAGirl Jan 3, 2007

    NIFONG'ed... that's bloody brilliant.

  • geowilrlst Jan 3, 2007

    Sounds like this case allmost got NIFONG'ed !

  • SON4R. Jan 2, 2007

    builder276 call me up when it happens and I will turn mine off too.

  • sunruner13 Jan 2, 2007

    I'm thinking that there's something going on behind the scenes that resulted in such a lousy plea deal. I'm wondering how much firm evidence the DA has. If he has good evidence, he wouldn't be offering "Voluntary manslaughter" for a measly 5 years.

  • builder276 Jan 2, 2007

    I'll turn my lights off the night he is executed, just in case they need the extra electricity.

  • ddixon1 Jan 2, 2007

    eye for a eye tooth for a tooth this was murder the death pentaly is what this charter should receive. the d.a. that made a plea like this (5 years ) should be put out of public office .

  • JustAGirl Jan 2, 2007

    So is his guilty plea null & void since the judge rejected the deal? Or is it still out there on the table, so to speak?

  • thinktwice Jan 2, 2007

    Would they only give him 5 years if she were a white woman?