As Ronnie Dodson left the Bibb County Courthouse Friday afternoon, tears filled his eyes.
"Nothing but hallelujah, finally. Finally after 14 years," he said through tears. That's how long he had been waiting to see justice for his daughter, Desta Dodson-Byrd.
Desta was killed in 1999. At that time her husband, Jody Byrd, claimed she had killed herself. But Desta Byrd's family and friends were relentless in seeking justice. At one point, they even put up billboards that read, "Justice For Desta."
They wanted Jody Byrd charged and tried. After a week-long trial, it took a Bibb County jury just over two hours to decide Jody Byrd's fate: guilty of murder.
"It's a long time coming," said Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey. She was specially appointed to the case. She says Byrd's guilt was obvious from the start.
The clincher, Casey feels, was that Jody Byrd's mail and work shirt were found inside the house the day Desta died. But he had told authorities he stumbled upon her body just as he arrived home from work.
"That tells the jury, that told me, he lied. He was in the house before it all happened," Casey said.
Desta Byrd's father says he realizes the verdict won't bring his daughter back.
"But he's in jail for what he did. It's justice," said Ronnie Dodson.
After the verdict, Jody Byrd was taken into custody. A sentencing date has yet to be set. Casey says she'll seek a sentence of 99 years.
After the trial ended, Desta's family said they were headed to her gravesite to deliver a bouquet of roses for each year it took them to reach justice on her behalf.
Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.
1720 Valley View Drive