Huntsville man formerly charged with murder, now charged with abuse of a corpse

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

William Lewis Payton

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. —  William Lewis Payton, who was charged with murdering his longtime girlfriend Tonya Lynn Amerson in October 2015, is back in the Madison County Jail on an unusual related charge.

Amerson’s remains were found behind Target in south Huntsville.

The murder case against Payton was dropped in February after a judge found a lack of evidence.

Payton, 42, has been charged with abuse of a corpse, a Class C felony that carries a sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison.

The Madison County District Attorney’s office said the medical examiners have not been able to determine a cause of death.

Payton’s attorney Patrick Tuten said they believe Amerson died of a drug overdose, and the charge is related to how Payton allegedly handled the body.

Tuten said this is the first time he’s heard of the charge being filed in 20 years of practicing law.