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Woman accused in roommate's death denied bond

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A Clayton County Magistrate Judge has denied bond for a Riverdale woman accused in the Sunday shooting death of her roommate.

Alexandria Johnson, 18, was in court for a first appearance hearing, Tuesday, handcuffed and chained at the ankles, wearing a green jumpsuit and flip flops.

Police say she shot Sidney Herman Byther, 26, in the head late Sunday night, at 950 Lake Ridge Parkway, in Riverdale, and fled the scene.

Byther was discovered when his brother, Carlos Byther, 35, came home from work, according to Detective James Eskew, of the Clayton County Police Department.

Sidney Byther was transported to Southern Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m., Monday, according to Eskew.

In court Tuesday, Judge Richard Brown said bond would not be set because of the seriousness of the charges. Brown said Johnson can be considered for bond at her next court date, a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 8, at 3 p.m., in Magistrate Court.

Tuesday, Johnson faced a charge of aggravated assault, the charge sought by police before Byther died.

"As a result of his death, I will add an additional charge of murder," said Eskew, who prepared the application for the criminal arrest warrant in the case.

"It will be my responsibility to seek the additional charge that applies in this case," Eskew said. "I'll prepare a warrant application, and the judge decides the issue," he said. Eskew said he expected to seek the murder charge today.

He said after Johnson allegedly shot Byther, she fled the scene in the victim's vehicle. Eskew said Johnson's behavior appeared inconsistent with an accidental shooting. "She could have made a 911 call and had police dispatched to the location," he said.

Eskew said Johnson was later stopped by McDonough Police for a traffic infraction. When police discovered that Johnson's driver's license was allegedly suspended, she was arrested and taken to the Henry County Jail.

Eskew said, at that time, Johnson did not inform McDonough Police that a shooting had occurred.

He said police allowed Johnson to call her boyfriend to pick up the vehicle. He did not have information on the alleged boyfriend's identity.

Clayton County Police were still on the scene at Byther's home, when Johnson's boyfriend returned the car. It was at that time that Clayton Police learned that Johnson had been arrested in Henry County, Eskew said.

"During the interview at the Henry County Jail, she began crying, and said she accidentally shot her friend," Eskew said. "She told police where she hid the gun."

"In a recorded interview, she explained she had just prepared him [Byther] something to eat. He was sitting on the couch eating," Eskew said. Eskew said that Johnson told police, Byther had asked her to hand him his gun.

"The weapon discharged, and the bullet struck the victim in the head, and continued into a big screen TV in the living room," Eskew said.

"The bullet entered the back of his head. Apparently he was not facing her when the weapon was discharged," Eskew said.

Eskew said there was no indication that Johnson and Byther were involved in a relationship, and that they appeared to simply be roommates.

"She said she was just a friend who had only been staying at the apartment approximately three weeks," said Eskew. "She claimed that she had been sleeping on the couch. The two brothers had their own room," he said.