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Madison County jury finds man guilty in 2019 Bethalto triple murder

"With this verdict, the families of Shari, AJ, and John can know both of these killers will spend the rest of their lives in jail."
Credit: Victims' family members

BETHALTO, Ill. — A second person will now serve a life sentence for a 2019 triple homicide in Bethalto.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine announced Friday that a jury found Brady Witcher, 41, of Alabama, guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery in the murders of Shari Yates, her son, Andrew “A.J.” Brooks, and John McMillian. The jury deliberated for less than an hour.

On Dec. 19, 2019, the victims' bodies were found in a home on Mill Street. Bethalto police discovered them while responding to a request from the Hazelwood Police Department to do a welfare check at the residence at around 11 p.m.

Credit: Victims' family members

RELATED: 3 killed in Bethalto homicide remembered as 'loving, fun, and full of life'

Witcher was arrested at a motel in Hazelwood, Mo. with 30-year-old Brittany McMillan. Both were charged with nine counts of first-degree murder, one count of armed robbery and one count of aggravated vehicular hijacking.

McMillan pleaded guilty in December to three counts of first-degree murder and was given a life sentence, the maximum available under Illinois law. The State's Attorney's Office said Witcher's multiple convictions guarantee he will be sentenced to natural life in prison. His sentencing will officially occur at a later date.

The couple is from Alabama, where they were already wanted for capital murder and kidnapping. They were also wanted in Clarksville, Tennessee, for shoplifting, aggravated kidnapping and theft of a motor vehicle.

The multi-state crime spree culminated in the triple homicide in Bethalto because the victims refused to trade a car for drugs and cash, a search warrant in the case said.

Credit: Bethalto PD

“These murders shocked the entire Madison County community,” Haine stated in the Friday announcement. “We are glad the jury agreed that the evidence clearly showed that Brady Witcher is a heartless murderer. It was a dark day when he and his co-defendant drove into our community, fleeing crimes in multiple other states, and destroyed so many lives. With this verdict, the families of Shari, AJ, and John can know both of these killers will spend the rest of their lives in jail.”

Haine went on to thank the Hazelwood Police Department, Bethalto Police Department and the Major Case Squad for their work in investigating the case.

“This case involved a level of complexity that is highly unusual, with almost 400 exhibits and dozens of witnesses, which is due to extraordinary police work,” Haine said. 

“Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Maricle deserves special praise for her fantastic lead prosecution of this case and as chief of our Violent Crimes Unit. ASA Morgan Hudson was also integral to this successful prosecution, and did an excellent job on behalf of the victims of this terrible crime.”