Huntsville man sentenced to 40 years for abuse of a corpse

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – A Huntsville man found guilty of corpse abuse has been sentenced to 40-years in prison.

jury convicted 44-year-old William Lewis Payton earlier this month of abusing the body of his longtime girlfriend, Tonya Lynn Amerson in 2015. They had three children together, but authorities said she was not living with Payton at the time of her death.

In October of 2015, Huntsville police found Amerson’s dismembered remains behind a shopping center on Carl T. Jones Drive in south Huntsville.

Payton was initially charged with murder, but a judge dropped the charges in February of 2016 because of a lack of evidence. The Madison County District Attorney’s Office said medical examiners could not determine a cause of death. Payton was charged with felony corpse abuse a few months later. His attorney, Patrick Tuten, said then that they believe Amerson died of a drug overdose, and the charge was related to how Payton allegedly handled the body.

Payton is also scheduled to appear in court in Marshall County, where he is charged with sex abuse of a child under 12 years old and strong arm sodomy. He pleaded not guilty to those charges. His pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 6.