Victim's family speaks out on former soldier convicted of murder

Victim's family speaks out on former soldier convicted of murder

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "He was more than just a cab driver," said Zaakirah Bilal as she remembered her father, Byron Brown, and his passion for John Coltrane's music, and playing the saxophone.

"He would play at night, and it was beautiful, it was almost like this sweet sultry sound," said Bilal.

However her and her family will never hear that sound again.

"We have been and always will be extremely close," said Bilal, and it's that closeness they say has gotten them through nearly three years of waiting for justice.
A jury decided Friday that Sandy Mitchell, a former soldier, shot and killed Brown after riding in his cab one early morning in September, 2012. The state described a robbery as the motive for the murder. Prosecutors argued that Mitchell was the last person in Brown's cab, and say the murder weapon along with other incriminating evidence was found in Mitchell's backyard. Mitchell sat still and silent as the verdict was read.

" I feel for his daughter, his wife, his mother in a sense, but they have his life, we don't have our father's life anymore," said Bilal.

Family members explain that while the guilty decision wont bring Brown back, they believe he can finally rest in peace.

"He used to tell my momma all the time, you gonna miss me when I'm gone, you gonna miss me when I'm gone, and we do," said Bilal.

Brown's family says he drove passengers trying to leave without paying directly to the police station in the past, but says if Mitchell had given him the chance, Brown would have never put his life on the line for money.

Sentencing is scheduled for next Tuesday, and family members plan on releasing balloons in Brown's honor after that hearing.

Copyright WTVM 2015. All rights reserved.