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Case of fatal roommate shooting bound over

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

The case of a Riverdale woman accused of shooting her roommate in the head and leaving him to die, without calling 9-1-1, was bound over to Superior Court Tuesday.

Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Bobby Simmons said he did find probable cause to bind over the case of Alexandria Johnson, 18, in the shooting death last month of Sidney Herman Byther, 26.

The incident occurred at the Alexander Falls Apartments, located at 950 Lake Ridge Parkway, in Riverdale, according to Clayton County Police Detective James Eskew, who testified during the probable cause hearing Tuesday.

Johnson was initially charged with aggravated assault, after Byther was found alive with a gunshot wound to the head by his brother, who also lived at the apartment, according to Eskew. The charges of murder and tampering with evidence were added after Byther died the following morning at Southern Regional Medical Center, according to Eskew.

Eskew testified that Johnson told police she shot Byther by accident, hid the gun in a kitchen cabinet, then fled the scene because she panicked. Johnson drove off in Byther's car, according to Eskew.

"She failed to call 9-1-1, even though she was in possession of a cell phone," he testified.

The detective said Johnson was later stopped by McDonough Police for a traffic infraction. "She was stopped for having a loud stereo blaring," he testified, when questioned by Assistant District Attorney Sandra Wolfe.

When police discovered that Johnson's driver's license was allegedly suspended, she was arrested and taken to the Henry County Jail. Eskew testified that, at that time, Johnson did not inform McDonough Police that a shooting had occurred.

He said Henry Police allowed Johnson to call her boyfriend, Frederick King, to pick up the vehicle. Clayton County Police were still on the scene at Byther's home when King returned the car. It was then that Clayton Police learned Johnson had been arrested in Henry County, Eskew said.

He said Johnson then confessed to Henry County authorities, and later to Clayton County Police, that she shot Byther. She told police Byther had asked her to put on a pair of gloves and, then, do something with the gun. Eskew said Johnson "could never really explain"

exactly what Byther allegedly asked her to do with the gun.

He said Johnson told police the gun accidentally discharged while she was handling it.

Byther was shot in the back of the head, according to Eskew. "He was not facing her at the time the weapon discharged," Eskew said on the stand.

Johnson is scheduled to have a bond hearing Sept. 18, in Clayton County Magistrate Court, according to her defense attorney, Reginald Martin.