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Georgia man accused of killing Florida prostitute in 1997

November 5, 2020 GMT

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Georgia man accused of killing a Florida woman in 1997 has denied involvement, but detectives said a bloody fingerprint and other evidence tied him to the crime.

Jimmy Lee Mahone, 51, was transferred from the Bibb County, Georgia, jail to Orlando on Tuesday. He was arrested last month in Georgia in the killing of Donna Byrd, 42, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

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The arrest came after Orange County Sheriff’s officials reopened the case in September, and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System found four prints matching Mahone.

Deputies noted that Mahone was arrested on drug charges three days after Byrd’s death about four blocks from the apartment she was killed, the newspaper reported.

Byrd’s body was found in the vacant apartment. She was beaten and bloodied, according to Mahone’s arrest report.

Deputies found the body while investigating a potential burglary. A homeowner had found a broken window on the vacant apartment attached to her home, the report said. They found Byrd’s body inside.

An autopsy determined she had been strangled.

Byrd had worked as a prostitute and often sought vacant locations to meet up with men, according to an arrest report.

Investigators found fingerprints, including one in the victim’s blood on a wall in a bathroom of the apartment. They compared them to men in the area with a history of raping and killing women, but none matched the prints, the Sentinel reported.

After the prints were linked to Mahone in September, deputies went to Georgia and interviewed him. He told them he didn’t recognize her photo. But he did admit to hanging out with prostitutes back in 1997 in the Orlando area.

Mahone described himself as a pimp, the report said, explaining that he “protected the prostitutes,” the arrest report said.

“Mahone denied ever beating or killing a prostitute or any woman in his life,” the report said.

He is currently held in the Orange County jail on a $100,000 bond for second-degree murder. Jail records don’t list an attorney for him.