An Alabama Army sergeant was shot to death just days after requesting an emergency protection of abuse against his "very mentally ill" wife, who has since been arrested and is facing charges in relation his death.
Brittany Ryals Paonessa, 27, was arrested this week and charged with murder after her husband, 26-year-old Brandyn Lloyd Paonessa, was found lying in the front yard of the couple’s home on Thursday with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, WTVM, a local ABC affiliate, reports.
Deputies with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a gunshot victim at the Phoenix City residence and arrived to find Brandyn injured, according to the outlet. Despite the best efforts of paramedics, Brandyn was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after help arrived. A shotgun was recovered at the scene and kept as evidence.
Authorities say they discovered evidence that pointed to Brittany Paonessa as the chief suspect, leading to her arrest, AL.com reports. She is currently being held on a $150,000 bond at the Lee County Detention Facility.
Three days before he was killed, Brandyn Paonessa filed for an emergency protection from abuse order against his wife, WTVM reports, citing state court records. Brandyn worried that his wife of around six years was “very mentally ill” and “very unstable” and claimed that she had refused treatment, according to the station. He went on to point to her past troubling behavior, which allegedly included stalking him, jeopardizing his job, and, on one occasion, running “a truck into the house 3 feet from our children.”
The couple shared four children together, between the ages of 2 months and 8 years old, according to WTVM. One of those children is from a prior relationship of Brittany’s, AL.com reports.
More court records show that Brandyn was arrested for domestic violence last year after his wife accused him of punching her in the stomach in retaliation for her looking through his cellphone, but that charge was ultimately dropped at Brittany’s request, AL.com reports.
Officials at Fort Benning, the base where Brandyn worked, confirmed his death in a statement obtained by WTVM. Brandyn was an infantryman who joined the service in 2013 and who served in Afghanistan twice, they said.
“The cause of his death remains under investigation,” they wrote.
Authorities urge anyone with information on the case to reach out to the sheriff’s office at 334-749-5651 or call the Lee County Crime Stoppers at 1-888-522-7847.
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