Local News

After Deal Rejected, Minister Pleads Guilty To Killing Wife

Posted January 3, 2007

— A Sanford minister pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing his wife and stuffing her body in the trunk of her car more than two years ago.

For the second day in a row, Melvin Bynum, 45, pleaded guilty 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.

Judge David Lee rejected the plea Tuesday because it was part of a deal with prosecutors that would have sentenced Lee to five years in prison. After hearing comments from Marnita Bynum's relatives about the impact of her slaying, Lee said the sentence wasn't appropriate for the crime.

Lee said he wanted some discretion in imposing a sentence. After Wednesday's plea, he sentenced Bynum to serve between 64 and 86 months in prison.

"(Tuesday's) plea would not have allowed him discretion in sentencing. He would have been locked into a sentence," defense attorney Robert Reives said.

Bynum has already spent more than two years behind bars, having been held in the Richmond County Jail since his arrest in September 2004.

Marnita Bynum's mother was upset with both plea deals, saying she spent as much time in prison for a forged check that her son-in-law will serve for killing her daughter.

"Seven years. That's what (the maximum sentence) is. That's a slap in the face, and my baby is worth more than that," Jacquelyn Carter said, adding that she plans to lobby for stiffer sentencing laws in North Carolina.

"I'm going to work on a law for my baby," she said.

Melvin Bynum, the pastor of Cry Out Loud Ministries in Sanford, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the case and could have faced the death penalty if he had been 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.

Assistant Richmond County District Attorney Jonathan Hipps declined to comment after the court hearing. But defense attorneys said they had grounds for a deal based on the evidence in the case.

"The state's case had a lot of weaknesses," defense attorney Eddie Meachum said. "If you did a very logical evaluation of the state's evidence, there were a lot of outcomes other than guilty to first-degree murder."

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  • Tired of thoughtlessness Jan 4, 2007

    This is totally ridiculous. I am by no means an advocate of drug dealers, but how is it, they can get more time than pedophiles nad murderers?

  • smcneil40 Jan 4, 2007

    This whole story just turns my stomach!!! I know of people who are serving 25 year in prison for attempted murder and this dirt bag only gets 7 year and he is only going to have to serve 5 and 2 are going to be time served!!!!WHAT THE DEVIL??? He is a crook and this looks like a case of Black magic or in other words----ROOTS!! I just know that he will not get away with this in GOD's Eyes!!

  • ENC-43 Jan 4, 2007

    I second that, TL!

  • latanya512 Jan 4, 2007

    If the evidence would not have held up to a first degree murder, why not wait until you have more? Someone would have talked eventually. That is human nature. DNA is growing so fast. We should have waited to take him to trial. Her death deserves better. Vengence is mine sayth the Lord. He is going to pay oneday.

  • Junebug Jan 4, 2007

    I say stuff him in a trunk for 5 to 7 years.

  • highergame4me Jan 4, 2007

    Like I have said before, blame the lawyers!!!! But then again, the judge could have imposed a different sentence if he wanted too!!!!!!!

  • S-O-L Jan 4, 2007

    you get in more trouble drinking and driving than for murder in NC!!!!

  • rolexricky Jan 4, 2007

    To the family and friends I pray that you will find consolation in Psalm 94. Vengenance belongs to God. I will keep you in my prayers.

  • Teacher4LIFE Jan 4, 2007

    This is a sad situation and I really feel for the children that were created from this relationship. They will one day have to face the man that took their mother's life.
    I know someone who went through the same situation and when there father was released he showed up at his child's school. This child suffered a severe breakdown. This person is now an adult who deals with social and emotional problems.
    The sentence is just as much a tragedy as the actual crime.
    God bless her family. You will see justice one day because their is a power higher than any court of law that will see that justice is prevailed.

  • spiritwarriorwoman Jan 4, 2007

    Shameful behavior from a supposed "man of God" who turned out to be nothing more than a "minion of the devil." AMEN!!!
    Sentences for murder are shameful in this country. In some other countries, those convicted of murder are sentenced to jail, but are also sentenced to have their victims tied around their necks to tote them about in putrification until they fall rotted from their bodies. Facing their crimes thusly and disgustingly surely teaches them greatly.
    Now I'm not saying we should carry out this barbaric sentence in the USA, but taking a life should result in the loss of your own life, at least as you knew it, with a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole. PERIOD AND AMEN!!!
    God bless.
    Rev. RB