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Family Dollar killing suspect wants lie detector test

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit – — The man charged in last year’s brutal murders of two dollar store workers insisted Thursday he didn’t commit the crime and volunteered to take a lie detector test in front of jurors.

“I’m willing to take a polygraph in order to clear my name,” Lavere Bryant said in front of jurors and a crowded courtroom of the victims’ family members and friends.

Bryant is on trial for the murders of Joseph Orlando and Brenna Machus, both 20, in July 2013. Both died of gunshot wounds to the head. Orlando’s body was found in the bathroom of the Family Dollar store on Newman Street. Machus’ body was found a few days later in a wooded area near the Southfield Freeway and Michigan Avenue.

Bryant, a 35-year-old former employee of the Family Dollar store in Inkster, also is charged with armed robbery.

Bryant was about an hour and half into testimony when, under cross-examination by Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark, he made the unusual offer. Hagaman-Clark reminded Bryant he was offered the opportunity by police to take a polygraph on four different times, but he refused them all.

Wayne Circuit Judge Qiana Lillard immediately dismissed jurors to discuss the issue in open court with Hagaman-Clark and Bryant’s defense attorney, Charles Longstreet. Later, she explained the polygraph tests are inadmissible in court.

Under questioning by his attorney,Bryant denied he murdered Orlando and Machus. When asked about “rape porn” found on his cellphone, Bryant said he is a writer who views the video for research.

“I was in the process of starting a movie production company,” said Bryant, who is a convicted sex offender. “I like searching the Web for different ideas ... love scenes, rape scenes, beat scenes, domestic violence scenes. You find good ideas in the porn industry.”

Longstreet asked Bryant “so this wasn’t part of your fantasy to capture a white woman and take her off and have sex with her?” Bryant answered no and said, “my preference is black women.”

“Did you have a creepy sexual desire to rape her?” Longstreet asked to gasps in the courtroom.

Bryant answered: “Definitely not.”

Under cross-examination, Bryant could not tell Hagaman-Clark his whereabouts around the time of the killings but said he did not commit the murders.

Hagaman-Clark asked Bryant about sexual harassment complaints made against him by female co-workers at the store where he worked. He admitted some were made against him, but one of the complaints was made by a co-workers’ mom instead of the woman herself.

The prosecutor also asked him about a Family Dollar property bag found near his home. He denied it belonged to him.

He also testified, under cross-examination, that he bought his girlfriend a gun before the Family Dollar murders.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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