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Victims’ estates sue hotel over relatives’ deaths

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Relatives of a New York woman and a Texas man shot to death in the lobby of the Airport Inn on Thanksgiving Day 2005 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hotel’s owner and its corporate parents.

The suit, filed by survivors of John Frank Aylesworth, 42, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, and Dorothy Smith, 58, of Flushing, N.Y., claimed the hotel’s owners should have known it was unsafe and taken more steps to ensure its customers would be protected.

The hotel had been robbed at least twice in the months before Smith and Aylesworth were killed, including the armed robbery of a hotel guest a month earlier, according the suit filed Thursday in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Motel desk clerk Kim Olney also was killed in the Nov. 24, 2005, robbery. Her estate is not involved in the civil suit.

Brandon Mitchell and Roderick Byrd, both of Birmingham, were convicted and sentenced to death for the murders.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from the hotel’s owner, Suresh Patel; his company, Krishna-Vision LLC; the Airport Inn; the company under whose banner the hotel operated, Days Inn Worldwide; and its parent company, the Wyndham Hotel Group.

The lead attorney for the victims’ estates, Rufus Smith Jr., declined comment until the defendants are served copies of the suit. A spokeswoman for Wyndham Hotel Group declined comment, citing pending litigation. Patel could not be reached Friday.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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