By Daniel Silliman
Alfonso Mason, 57, a former bank executive who ended up struggling to pay rent at extended-stay motel, was found guilty of murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and carjacking.
After hearing two-and-a-half days of testimony and a three-hour videotape of the man's confession to police, a Clayton County jury deliberated for an hour and a half on Thursday and found him guilty on all counts.
He was sentenced to life, plus 60 years in prison.
According to testimony presented at trial, Mason retired to Clayton County after receiving a $70,000 pension on his 55th birthday and spending most of the money to pay off debt. Estranged from his daughter and family, he said he had just enough left to live on for a year, and moved into the Suburban Lodge, on Davidson Parkway in Stockbridge.
Mason, who was known to the motel staff as someone who was friendly and neat, spent a year watching TV and drinking, he told Clayton County detectives, and fell into depression, despair and alcoholism.
At one point, Mason later said, he became so despondent he tried to shoot himself in the head. Instead, he fired two bullets into the wall and began to plan an armed robbery.
When his money ran out, around his 56th birthday in January 2006, he began to progressively pawn off his belongings. Then, he began to buy things with a credit card and pawn them for rent money.
He was evicted on March 8, 2006. That day, according to police, prosecutors' witnesses, and Mason, he had a heated exchange with a motel maid who had helped him sell his personal jewelry. The woman, Cynthia Hyman, a 49-year-old mother of three, was later found dead in an empty room on the second floor, stabbed repeatedly in the stomach with a serrated knife.
Mason was seen leaving the room, and entering the front office with a black revolver in his hand. He held up the assistant manager, Bridgette McLemore, and took cash from the register.
McLemore told the jury she didn't believe she was being robbed and thought, at first, the older man with the thick glasses and gray hair must be joking.
However, Mason held McLemore at gunpoint and forced her outside, and into her 2000 Pontiac Sunbird. They drove off, according to evidence presented at the trial, but Mason then ordered her to return to the motel and let her go. He took the car.
About two weeks later, running out of money at another extended-stay motel, in DeKalb County, Mason saw his own wanted mugshot on TV. He turned himself in.
During a long evening interview with Clayton County police, the retiree said he decided his life was meaningless, he hadn't felt like himself for a long time and nothing felt real.
Mason will be eligible for parole in 50 years, at the age of 107.