Arrest made in Alabama slayings of local truck driver, two others
From Staff and Wire Reports

Dec. 4, 2005 -- Alabama and federal authorities arrested a 23-year-old man accused of gunning down three people, including a Sulphur Springs man, on Thanksgiving Day in a Birmingham hotel lobby.

Brandon Deon Mitchell, who had been released from prison less than two months before, was arrested late Thursday by U.S. marshals and Birmingham homicide detectives after trying to escape from a street corner in Fairfield, just west of Birmingham.

Police believe that Mitchell had at least one accomplice and that two guns were used in the shooting of an Airport Inn clerk and two guests, including John Franklin Aylesworth, 42, of Sulphur Springs on Nov. 24.

Police said a videotape captured scenes of two men shooting the three victims and then fleeing with a cash drawer holding $300 and a safe. Police said they identified Mitchell from the grisly video.

Mitchell is charged with capital murder in the deaths of Aylesworth; hotel clerk Kim Olney, 28; and Dorothy Smith, 58, of Queens, N.Y.

All three were shot in the head.

Mitchell was released from prison Oct. 12 after serving two years, 11 months, 29 days at state correctional facilities for earlier crimes he committed. That includes time he served in the county jail before sentencing in May 2003, when Mitchell received a 20-year sentence, with only three years to serve behind bars, after he was convicted of robbery, discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle and second-degree kidnapping.

"He is the shooter, that's what police told me this morning," said Daphne Aylesworth, Aylesworth's widow and the mother of his four children, who are 7 years to 10 months old.

"I told them they better not plea-bargain this guy," she said. "Nothing they can give him will make up for what he did to our families, but he needs to die for it."

She also said she appreciated the support received from police and others.

"I did ask the detectives if he gave a reason why he shot and killed my husband and those two other ladies," Daphne Aylesworth said, "and they said they just think he didn't want to leave any witnesses."

Aylesworth talked to her husband on his cell phone minutes before he was killed. She was fixing Thanksgiving dinner for herself and the children, and he made her promise she'd save him some of her homemade cranberry salad.

"We told each other we loved each other," she said, "but we told each other that 100 times a day."

Aylesworth, a former Marine, was buried Thursday in Texas with a full military service at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

"Nothing would make me feel better except to have my husband back," Daphne Aylesworth said. "But since I can't have my husband back, I'd like a few minutes alone with that boy."


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