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SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2007

Jurors recommend death after motel triple slaying

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Jurors recommended death by lethal injection for Roderick Byrd for his capital murder convictions in a Thanksgiving Day triple slaying at a Birmingham motel.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Bill Cole set sentencing for Aug. 6 for the 23-year-old Byrd who was convicted Friday in the Airport Inn murders.

Cole isn’t bound by the jury’s recommended death penalty and could sentence Byrd to life in prison without parole.

The victims were shot execution-style on Nov. 24, 2005, during a robbery.

The dead included the motel clerk, Kim Olney, 28, of Birmingham; and two motel guests, truck driver John Aylesworth, 42, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, and Dorothy Smith, 58, of Flushing, N.Y.

Olney’s mother, Candye Olney, told jurors that it’s impossible to explain to her daughter’s children, who are 13 and 8, why their mother died.

“It’s been extraordinarily difficult,” she said. “In some ways it seems like we haven’t gone forward, that we’re stuck. And I think we need to move forward.”

Smith’s daughter, Sonya, said she mourned the loss of her confidante, whose support and advice she especially needs now that she’s six months pregnant.

“Now that backbone is no longer there,” she said.

Aylesworth’s 15-year-old son, Clint Aylesworth, took the witness stand Friday and read jurors a letter he had written to Byrd, describing the teen’s sleepless nights and the way his father’s murder on Thanksgiving Day had ruined holidays. He said he hated Byrd.

Byrd witnessed his own mother’s murder when he was 8 years old, according to testimony. Byrd cried as he apologized to the victims’ families.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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