Local News

Prosecutors Yet To Decide Whether To Seek Death Against Lee County Pastor

Posted September 2, 2004 4:28 a.m. EDT

— Prosecutors have not decided whether they will seek the death penalty in the case of a Lee County pastor accused of killing his wife.

Melvin Bynum appeared in a Rockingham courtroom Thursday to ask for his bond to be reduced, but the judge turned down his request. He is accused in the death of his wife, Marnita Bynum. Bynum was found strangled to death in the trunk of her car alongside a road in August.

"He's lost his wife. He's got two kids who need him right now and a third son that's going to need him and hasn't had an opportunity to help him," said Robert Reives, Melvin Bynum's attorney

Prosecutors said they have to wait for a grand jury to indict Bynum before deciding whether it will be a capital case.

Many people came to court Thursday to hear the proceedings.

"I feel bad. I feel that justice needs to be done," said Essie Kerse, Marnita Bynum's friend.

Investigators have not said why they believe Bynum killed his wife. The couple had been married for nearly 18 years, but court records show Melvin Bynum sought a divorce earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, detectives said they had trouble investigating the case. Some members of Bynum's church were hesitant to come forward. Investigators believe they were afraid of Bynum.