Jury selection begins in Mark Bethel capital murder trial
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A jury is being selected in a capital murder trial for 59-year-old Mark Bethel. He is accused of the 2015 deaths of 35-year-old Jessica Ann Payton and 37-year-old Shawn Dehn Summers. It happened on Halloween night at Buffalo Springs Lake. If convicted, he faces life without the possibility of parole, or death.
In 2015, Bethel was indicted on two separate murder charges; one for Summers and one for Payton. The revised indictment from June 2021, says on October 31, 2015, Bethel knowingly caused the death of Payton and Summers by shooting them both, “...and both murders were committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct, but during different criminal transactions,” the indictment reads.
According to the arrest warrant for Bethel, On Oct. 28, 2015, a witness called and reported to police a total of four gunshots were heard from a residence where Payton and Bethel lived in the late afternoon. The witness says two gunshots were heard and someone yelled, “Shut the f*** up!”, after that, someone closed the curtains and two more shots were heard.
Police went to the home after receiving the call, but no one answered the door.
Police dispatch received a report of “shots fired” at 9:20 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2015, in the 8500 blk. of Ash Ave., in SE Lubbock County. The warrant shows the male caller, believed to be Summers, stated he thought he “might have been shot” and he was in the area of 82nd St. and Ash Ave. The call was disconnected and no further contact with this caller was established. Initial responding officers searched the area but were unable to locate Summers or the exact location of the reported incident.
Around 11:30 p.m., police received a call from an unidentified person saying a body was found. Payton’s body was found in a small body of water in the area of CR 3600 & E CR 7300. Her body was wrapped in a comforter bound by electrical tape and a white plastic bag around her head. Her body had been weighted down by a chain and cinder blocks.
Then, shortly before Midnight, Halloween, Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a vehicle fire on East 19th St., approximately 1.5 miles east of Loop 289 in East Lubbock. It was there an unidentified body was found inside the vehicle which was engulfed in flames. Police also found several bullet holes in the vehicle. The body was later identified as Shawn Dehn Summers.
Court documents show Bethel and Payton were in a relationship and lived together. The arrest warrant reveals text messages between Payton and Summers stating they were involved in a romantic relationship and Payton was pregnant with Summers’s child. However, Payton was not pregnant at the time of her death.
On Wednesday, November 4, 2015, police executed a search warrant for Payton and Bethel’s home on Pony Express Trail in Buffalo Springs Lake. Officers found evidence, including a pair of pillow shams that matched the comforter Payton’s body was wrapped in when her body was found.
Police also noted the living room carpet had been removed, but the carpeting was still in all of the bedrooms.
Investigators went to where Bethel worked and was asked to go to the Criminal Investigators Division of LSO. Bethel waived his rights and agreed to talk to investigators. He also signed a consent to search for his Samsung cell phone.
Investigators searched his phone and found deleted text messages between Bethel and ‘Baby’, who is believed to be Payton, dating up to October 27, 2015.
During the interview with Bethel, he told investigators he had not seen Payton in two weeks since she left and took his money. Police say this did not coincide with the text messages Bethel had deleted from his cell phone.
David Bethel, Mark Bethel’s cousin, was also accused of the October 2015 murder of Shawn Summers. On March 5, 2019, David accepted a guilty plea and a 40-year prison term for the crime.
Bethel admitted to the shooting death of 37-year-old Shawn Summers on Oct. 31, 2015. Authorities say he joined his cousin Mark in the shooting before fleeing to Arizona. He was arrested there in November 2015.
David Bethel was not a suspect in the murder of Jessica Payton.
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