An Alabama man who was initially charged with murdering his girlfriend was accused Feb. 17 of sexually abusing a child and sodomy.
Officials dropped charges against William Lewis Payton, 42, of murdering his girlfriend, Tonya Amerson, 27, after failing to obtain forensic evidence in time, WAFF reports.
The case was consequently dismissed Feb. 17. It may take months before the forensic evidence is made available to authorities, according to WAFF.
"We have to act within the bounds of the law and within the bounds of the evidence," said Prosecutor Joshua Ballinger. "At this time we had no other options but to dismiss it and wait for the forensics to come back, then at that time we'll take it to the grand jury for reconsideration -- at which time, new charges might be brought and then he'll be re-arrested."
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In the meantime, authorities say they have no other suspect and will continue to investigate Payton.
The news shocked Susan Amerson, Tonya’s Mother.
"When I allow myself to think about it, today is just like Oct. 16. The day they walked in and told us,” she said.
She understands the need to follow the legal process fairly.
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Amerson’s body was found dumped and dismembered behind a Target store in October 2015.
AL.com reports the couple had three young daughters together ages 8, 7 and 2 at the time their mother was killed.
Payton reportedly worked in various customer-service roles, and may have been a server at a local cafe, reports AL.com.
Both Payton and Amerson have previous criminal records.
Payton has previously spent time in prison for drug possession and trafficking in September 2012. Amerson was arrested with him.
Amerson was also indicted for stealing a computer from Wal-Mart January 2015 and was arrested a month before she died for public intoxication and traffic charges.