TALLADEGA COUNTY -- The man accused of killing Melissa McDonald last year will be held in the Talladega County Metro Jail without bond, at least until his preliminary hearing date in October.
Carlos Laundrell Brooks, 42, of Alexander City, had his initial court appearance Thursday morning in front of Circuit Judge Will Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth ordered Brooks to be held without bond and said a preliminary hearing would be held in Sylacauga before District Judge Ryan Rumsey on Oct. 2. Brooks was also told that if he could not afford an attorney, one would be appointed for him at his preliminary hearing.
At the preliminary hearing, Rumsey will hear evidence and decide whether it is enough for the case to proceed to a grand jury. It will be up to the grand jury to either issue an indictment on a charge of murder, an indictment on other charges or to issue a no bill.
If Brooks is indicted, he will be sent back to circuit court for arraignment, and the case will begin working its way toward a trial.
A conviction for murder carries a penalty of 20 to 99 years or life in prison.
When Hollingsworth asked Brooks if he had anything he would like to say Thursday morning, Brooks said, “I don’t even know why I’m here. I didn’t kill anybody.”
Brooks is charged with murder in connection with the shooting of Melissa Joy “Missy” McDonald, 34, multiple times while she was working at the Allen Oil gas station and convenience store on Alabama 21 in August 2018.
Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens said Brooks was arrested on the murder warrant by U.S. Marshals on Tuesday night in Alexander City. After he arrived in Talladega, Brooks asked to be taken to the hospital. That was done, but he was discharged and booked into the Talladega County jail immediately afterward.
Giddens said Brooks has a prior conviction for robbery in the first degree in Talladega County and one or two prior robbery convictions from Coosa County. He also appears to have a robbery in the first degree charge pending in Tallapoosa County stemming from an incident in June, but details of that case were unclear Thursday.
Sylacauga police Chief Kelley Johnson said almost from the outset of the investigation into McDonald’s death that robbery did not appear to be a motive in the case.
Christie Mefferd is McDonald’s aunt and a spokesperson for the victim’s family. Reached Thursday afternoon, Mefferd said, "We're happy they found the guy. I pray she has justice for what he has done. We really don't know how to feel yet or what to say, but my niece deserves more than 10 years of his time in prison. I pray he finds Jesus. There is a lot of mixed emotions. I pray he gets what he deserves.
“I pray Missy can finally rest in paradise. She didn't deserve this. I'm so thankful for (Sylacauga police), that they didn't just push it under the rug and leave it be. They really (did) their jobs and a very dangerous job at that. I know it has really changed the way I felt about the police myself.
“Maybe now we can all have closure. (I) just wish we could find out why he took her away from us. Why is all I can ask. I put him in God's hands to deal with this.
“I myself want him to suffer for what he (has) done, but as a child of God, all I can say is I forgive him, because I have to, but I can't answer for everyone else. I want justice for my niece and her family."