A man accused of murdering his girlfriend and infant son, then setting their home on fire to hide the crime, is set to appear in court for a hearing Tuesday, July 10.
In a hearing Friday, July 6, the defense of Brandon Conner argued against permitting a jury to see certain, graphic autopsy and evidence photos showing the charred bodies of 32-year-old Rosella “Mandy” Mitchell and 6-month-old Dylan Ethan Conner.
Judge William Rumer gave the prosecution and defense until Tuesday to argue their side.
The case stems from the August 2014 double homicide on Winifred Lane, and the prosecution is looking to send 36-year-old Conner to death row.
Muscogee County Coroner, Buddy Bryan, recalls the “absolutely horrific scene” when first responders discovered Mitchell and the child inside the smouldering home, stabbed and burned beyond recognition.
“So, we go inside and the house is virtually completely gutted with fire, and of course, we had a charred body, on the floor, face down,” says Bryan. He says moments later first responders discovered the child.
The prosecution has a lot to prove if they are going to convince a jury to convict Conners to the fullest extent.
Bryan explains how the damage he saw that night could impact collection of evidence.
“All the basic physical evidence would have been destroyed in the fire, so you’re working with a clean slate, and you have to be really meticulous about putting together a case that can be prosecuted to the tenth degree.”
The defense also has their work cut out for them.
The court will also need to review victim impact statements and resolve requests for additional DNA data from the GBI crime lab.
“If they have the evidence to prove that he did it, and then that his life, to pay for his sins- that’s what I’d like to see. I think that would be justification for Dylan and for Dylan’s mom and the family,” says Bryan.
Jurors will decide Conner’s guilt or innocence on charges of murder, aggravated battery, first-degree arson among the other crimes he’s charged with, and they’ll determine if those alleged crimes warrant the death penalty.
When it comes to the District Attorney, Julia Slater, this will be her second death penalty that she’s prosecuted in her 10 years as D.A.
Slater tells News the tentative start date for Conner’s trial is set for October 1st.