Man guilty in dollar store deaths
Detroit — The families of two Family Dollar workers shot to death expressed relief Monday after the man accused in the killings was found guilty.
A Wayne County Circuit Court jury deliberated for just two hours Friday and announced Monday morning they were convinced Lavere Bryant murdered Joseph Orlando and Brenna Machus in July 2013.
Jamie Machus, Brenna's dad, said he plans to go to the cemetery to "tell" his daughter of the verdict.
Orlando's mom, Cindy Konkel, said she held her son's ashes between her and her father's hands as she awaited the decision.
"Joe was with us," Konkel said Monday. "Justice has been served. (Bryant) won't be able to hurt anyone else."
Bryant, 35, was also found guilty on related charges.
Orlando's body was found in the Dearborn store's bathroom with a gunshot wound to the head. Machus' body was found a few days later in a wooded area near the Southfield Freeway and Michigan Avenue. She had been shot in the head, as well. Both were 20 years old.
Bryant, who worked at a Family Dollar store in Inkster, took the stand Thursday and denied he was involved in the murders.
A juror in the case said "DNA evidence convinced us" as well as Bryant's testimony Thursday where he failed to convince them of his innocence.
"His testimony buried him more. He didn't say 'Hey I'm innocent'," said the juror who did not want his name published. "If I was him I would have tried to defend myself more."
Jamie Machus said "I was so happy to see my daughter finally get justice."
Ryan Machus, Brenna's brother, who has attended the trial with his father called the verdict "awesome."
Bryant will be sentenced Dec. 11 and at that time Jamie Machus and Cindy Konkel plan to speak before the court about their children and the impact the murders have had on their lives.