Soldier gunned down by post-partum wife, mom of 4 small children, days after he filed restraining order

(Brittnay Ryals Paonessa and Brandyn Lloyd Paonessa/Facebook)

An Alabama woman has been arrested and charged with murder after she allegedly shot her husband on their front lawn just days after he filed an emergency restraining order against her.

Brandyn Lloyd Paonessa, a soldier at Fort Benning who survived two combat tours in Afghanistan, died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen after first responders failed to save him last week following the 911 call in Lee County, according to WSFA News. Deputies arrived to find  the victim laying in the front yard of the couple’s Phenix City home.

The 26-year-old’s wife, Brittnay Ryals Paonessa, was arrested and charged with murder the next day, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The 27-year-old, who had just given birth to the couple’s child in March, is being held on a $150,000 bond at the Lee County Detention Facility.

(Source: Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

Fort Benning officials confirmed the soldier’s death in a statement, according to WTVM:

The Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Brandyn Lloyd Paonessa, 26, of Smith’s Station, Alabama. Paonessa was assigned to Task Force 1-28, 3rd Infantry Division. He died June 13 in Lee County, Alabama. Paonessa, an infantryman (11B), joined the Army in September 2013 and had two overseas combat deployments to Afghanistan. The cause of his death remains under investigation.


The infantryman had reportedly tried to protect himself just three days before the attack, according to Alabama court records which show that his wife’s mental state had concerned him. Paonessa had indicated that she was “very mentally ill” and “very unstable” but refused help from a rehabilitation center. He also accused his wife of stalking him, his family and friends as well as threatening his job after he joined the Army in September 2013.

The filing by Paonessa also alleged that the mother of four “ran a truck into the house 3 feet from our children,” ages 8, 3, 2, and 2-months.

The soldier had been arrested himself last year on a third-degree domestic violence charge after his wife accused him of punching her in the stomach after she was looking through his cell phone, according to Court records obtained by His wife later dropped the charges.

Married since 2013, the couple had three children together. Brittnay also had another child from a previous relationship, according to

“His primary focus in life was his family,” Amanda Kitrell, a friend of the Fort Benning soldier told WTVM. “It was always his family. I’ve seen people say he survived tho combat missions in Afghanistan just to come home and be killed, but, either way, Brandyn died a hero.”


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