Atmore woman held on $1.5 million bail in robbery, torture

Published 4:37 pm Monday, January 8, 2007

By By Janet Little Cooper
An Atmore resident is being held on a $1.5 million bail in Baldwin County for allegedly restraining an Orange Beach man inside his mobile home while beating and torturing him.
Diana Lashay Byrd, 24, of 125 Green Acres Road, Atmore, along with 26-year-old Hayward Aaron Hartley, of Cottondale, face charges of attempted murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and first-degree theft of property.
According to Orange Beach authorities, the pair went to the home of Shaun Cassidy, 58, of Orange Beach, New Year's Eve asking to borrow money.
When Cassidy refused, the couple left the property. Cassidy left as well, only to return home a short time later to find Byrd and Hartley burglarizing his home.
"The victim and Hartley were acquaintances," Orange Beach police lieutenant Steve Brown said. "They definitely knew each other. Cassidy came home and basically interrupted a burglary and then the two offenders got into it with him. They both began to assault him, tying him to his bed and assaulting him with a baseball bat and slashing his body with a knife in an effort to obtain the combination to the victim's safe."
Brown said that once the pair was able to open the safe, they stole the contents that included money and jewelry as well as other items from inside the home.
Among the stolen items, were Cassidy's credit cards that were obtained after leaving him bound and injured.
"They left the victim for dead," Brown said. "There was a pending court case between the two and this was a possible case of revenge. The attack was not a random act."
Cassidy had previously signed a warrant with Orange Beach police for misdemeanor assault charges against Hartley.
According to Brown, the couple fled the scene of Cassidy's home at the Bay La Launch Mobile Home Park in the victim's vehicle.
Authorities were able to capture the suspects in a Mobile motel room Tuesday after tracking Cassidy's credit card from purchases made by the two at Target and Wal-mart on New Year's Eve.
"The offenders fled in the victims car that was later found in Mobile on a service road adjacent to I-65," Brown said. "They were in the company of two other individuals, a male and female, who were not there at the time of the arrest, that are believed to be involved in the illegal purchases made with the victim's credit cards. They were not a party to the assault however, and it is in Mobile's jurisdiction as to whether any charges will be filed against them."
Cassidy was able to free himself and went to a neighbor for help. He was treated and released after an overnight stay at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile.
"Had Mr. Cassidy not been able to free himself and get help or either been found by someone," Brown said. "He would have most certainly succumbed to his injuries. He was bleeding quite profusely when we arrived. He had been left for dead."

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