Slain court reporter known for her cooking
Julie Ann Brandau loved to cook, so much so that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes praised her in a July 2002 letter to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Every day of every trial, she creates something special for our jurors," Barnes wrote when he nominated his court clerk for a Food section profile. "The staff and I are sometimes jealous of her attentions to the jury and lament the usual lack of leftovers."
The 46-year-old court reporter was killed Friday morning, along with the judge and a Fulton sheriff's deputy, during a violent rampage in downtown Atlanta.
Her neighbors in Gwinnett County expressed shock upon hearing the news. Though they didn't know her well, Bob and Joyce Lloyd said they knew Brandau worked for a judge.
"I saw her go to work this morning," said Joyce Lloyd. "She leaves at about 7 o'clock and I leave about 7 to go for my walk. And I saw her in her blue BMW."
Brandau, who was divorced, bought her home on Chimney Top Lane about a year ago and lived there with her daughter, Christina, a freshman at Auburn University, and a golden retriever named Heidi, her neighbors said.
A native of Moncks Corner, S.C., Brandau was the youngest of three girls. She was a member of the Georgia Certified Court Reporters Association and had worked in the field for 25 years.
Judy Jackson was visibly shaken having just heard the news. Jackson said Brandau had spent a lot of time remodeling her new home, putting in hardwood floors, painting and decorating.
"Oh, she loved that house," Jackson said of Brandau's big brick home with dark red shutters and pale yellow trim. It is the last house on the Snellville street lined with tidy brick homes and manicured lawns.
Jackson said that although the two were not very close they often chatted when they'd see each other outside in their yards. Brandau had a steady stream of friends who would visit her, Jackson said.
"She had just gotten her hair cut and I told her how pretty it was," Jackson said. "She was always courteous, really nice and always had a smile on her face."
Jackson's husband, Ken, said he also found Brandau to be "just a fantastic neighbor and a good citizen. Minds her own business."
Shaking his head and rubbing his eyes, Ken Jackson wandered back into the family room of his house, saying of the shooting, "it's just a random, senseless act of violence."
John Williamson lives three doors down from Brandau. Out mowing his backyard late Friday morning, he had heard news of the shooting but didn't realize that one of the slain people was his neighbor until a reporter told him. Williamson, clasped his head in his hands.
"Oh, no, it's her?" he said, bracing himself against a chainlink fence.
Williamson said and would see Brandau leave for and come home from work most days. He said she was glad to have moved to the neighborhood and was open to working on neighborhood improvements, he said.
"I remember going up there and trying to get her to help us get a septic system in the neighborhood instead of a sewer system and she signed on the dotted line real quick," Williamson said. "She was just very friendly."
Bob Lloyd, a retired engineer, said he helped Brandau when her basement flooded, the pilot light was off and a tree was down. His wife said Brandau often repaid their favors with giftcards.
They had a hard time believing she was gone.
"I'm just so shocked," Joyce Lloyd said. "I just keep seeing Julie out in the yard playing with the dog."
Published in Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Mar. 11, 2005.